Brunnenstrasse 9

11 04 2010

Stark doesn’t quite cover it. Berlin’s newest gallery space in trendy Mitte has provoked quite a reaction from artists, designers and architects alike. The space has been inundated with praise, and I can see why.

It’s shell may seem a little, well, bleak; but look closer at it’s ‘unfinished’ exterior and you begin to understand the story of this place. It’s an exercise in flexibility. Every part of it (nearly) can be re-arranged, moved and reconfigured to suit the needs of the inhabitants. The facade, the walls, windows and doors can all be relocated to change the space inside. This wonderful, movable building, sits perfectly in its ever-changing surroundings and instead of appearing a little bit gimmicky, actually brings a whole new level of ingenuity to minimal, modernist architecture. Along the interior walls you’ll find holes ready to support another floor, staircases that can be moved and a ground floor that can be (partly) removed to give a double-height gallery space in the basement, should the tenant require it.

The interior intentionally exposes the buildings skeleton: untreated concrete floors and walls, MDF panels and uncased strip fluorescent lighting. This base state, however, is really rather beautiful and, knowing the potential the space still holds to change, makes it even more attractive. You can not only appreciate it for what it is now, but what it could be. This space is malleable, and it’s exciting to know that one day it will change.

It’s a fascinating approach to what will be a mixed-use building. Arno Brandlhuber, the minimalist genius who designed the space, has his studio in the penthouse suite of the building, along with the painfully trendy fashion magazine 032C on the third floor and the gallery KOW in the ground floor gallery space. This can, of course, all change if needed. So when I say that ‘stark’ doesn’t quite cover it, I mean it. This building is more the sum of its minimalist concrete parts. It’s an uplifting, ingenious creation that proves minimal design can, and will, stand the test of time.

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