Thursday, November 3, 2011

Embassy of the Netherlands, Berlin

The Embassy of the Netherlands in Berlin (DutchNederlandse ambassade te BerlijnGerman:Niederländische Botschaft in Deutschland) is the Netherlands's diplomatic mission in Berlin,Germany.
The Royal Netherlands Embassy by OMA / Rem Koolhaas in Berlin is the new symbol and showcase for the Netherlands in Germany.
A solitary building, integrating requirements of conventional civil service security with openness was needed. Traditional (former West Berlin) city planning guidelines demanded the new building to complete the city block in 19th century fashion, the (former East Berlin) city planning officials had an open mind towards the OMA proposal for a freestanding cube on a - block completing - podium. The office in the end realized the building in a combination of obedience (fulfilling the block’s perimeter) and disobedience (building a solitary cube).
As the diplomats used the hallway in the old embassy building a lot for informal meetings OMA gave them a building with an enormous hallway as centre: a continuous trajectory reaching all eight stories of the embassy shapes the building’s internal communication. 
The workspaces are the ‘leftover areas’ after the trajectory was ‘carved’ out of the cube and are situated along the facade. 
Reception spaces are activated inside the cube. Other semi-public spaces are located closer to the facade and at one point cantilever out over the drop-off area. From the entry, the trajectory leads on via the library, meeting rooms, fitness area and restaurant to the roof terrace. The trajectory exploits the relationship with the context, river Spree, Television Tower (‘Fernsehturm’), park and wall of embassy residences; part of it is a ‘diagonal void’ through the building that allows to see the TV Tower from the park.
The (slightly over pressurized) trajectory works as a main airduct from which fresh air percolates to the offices to be drawn off via the double (plenum) facade. This ventilation concept is part of a strategy to integrate more functions into one element.
I would have liked to go inside, but of course, "openness" and "security" are contradictory concepts.  It seems terribly unfortunate that paranoia has preempted the original function of the embassy.  I think that this may have been "to help" people, including foreigners, but now it seems that the diplomatic missions of most countries are more self-serving than anything else.  

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