OMA's "open valley" building wins Axel Springer tender
By Stu Robarts
April 2, 2014
A design by international architecture firm OMA has been selected for the new Axel Springer media center in Berlin. The design is aimed at encouraging collaborative working in a digital age. It was chosen in the final round of a competition ahead of designs by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Buro Ole Scheeren.
Gizmag last covered OMA when it won a contest to design the Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen, China, with a concept that featured an exposed viewing platform halfway up the building. The Axel Springer competition was announced in May 2013 as a means of developing ideas for additional office space, in particular for the company's digital divisions. Participants were asked to set new standards in architectural atmosphere, usage and room conception, reflecting a modern working environment. In total, 18 architecture firms contested the brief.
Following the shortlisting of BIG, Buro Ole Scheeren and OMA, the three concepts were reviewed in terms of acceptability and feasibility. OMA's design will only go ahead if it is subsequently found to be fully feasible. It was developed in collaboration with Arup London, RWDI (providing micro-climate consultation), Kahle Acoustics, SMV Bauprojektsteuerung and Emproc GmbH (for cost consultation), and Peter Stanek (for fire safety consultation).
The concept, designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, features a 30-m (98-ft) high diagonal atrium, described as an "open valley," with interconnected terraces and public workspaces to enable both individual and collaborative work. Each floor contains a covered area, while the terraces remain uncovered and act as a stage from which to broadcast ideas to other parts of the company.
The atrium opens up towards the existing Axel Springer campus and references the old and the new by facing Zimmerstrasse, a street which previously separated East and West Berlin. The ground floor level contains studios, event and exhibition spaces, canteens and restaurants.
"Rem Koolhaas drafted a building which only on second sight reveals its secret, architecturally formulating a new kind of collaborative working at its core," says Regula Lüscher, the Senate Building Director at Berlin's Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. "The concept offers a strong symbolic force as it incorporates the course of the Berlin Wall diagonally through the building, thereby creating an atrium and spectacular interior, which addresses the unification of this city. Thus, Axel Springer continues its own architectural history in this location."