After the Wall came down, the city planners wanted to restore to the city the elegance of the early 20th century. This project includes the reconstruction of the Pariser Platz and the western side of Unter den Linden Avenue, two of the city’s focal points which had been undermined by the East- West divide for thirty years.
Majesty and transparency
The architects have designed a majestic building which is given an airy feel by internal courtyards identical to those in the pre-war mansion. With this arrangement of the buildings, the various interior areas of the embassy benefit from natural lighting and ventilation.
A common entrance for vehicles and pedestrians leads into the first courtyard, providing a transitional area between the city and the embassy. In the centre an oak tree symbolises Great Britain.
For formal receptions, visitors are welcomed in the entrance hall and led to the “Piano Nobile” level via the Grand Staircase. From the Wintergarden, which is lit in a manner resembling daylight by a circular lantern light, glass panels provide a view over the entrance courtyard.
Here, the observer is at the central point of the embassy. The Wintergarden is flanked by a circular conference room and the banqueting hall.
The upper levels of the Wintergarden, which are in the form of balconies circling the centre, provide visitors with a view over the activities inside and allow staff to feel part of the special events on the “Piano Nobile” level.
A neo-classical façade
The façade, which at a height of 22 metres dominates Wilhelmstrasse, reflects the internal organisation of the building into three sections: ground floor, formal events level and offices.
The distribution between solid walls and windows in the façade has deliberate echoes of the mansion in the Pariser Platz, a neo-classical building designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). The choice of natural stone and its colour and texture are similar to that of the Brandenburg Gate, the monument symbolising the city of Berlin.
However, the strict sense of harmony in the structure and the materials is interrupted by a wide opening in the entrance area to the building.
The alternation between geometric shapes of different colours and glass panels gives the building its characteristic appearance.
Protection from the sun, sound insulation and security
As a prestige building in the heart of a district open to the public, the new embassy makes a very novel use of glass. Although the façade does not reveal the interior of the building except in certain areas, the internal organisation and secure zones overlooking the courtyard are distinguished by their visibility and transparency.
The windows in the façade, with openings in natural stone, are fitted with insulating glass units incorporating Pilkington Suncool™ Titan 65/39*, which combine solar protection with sound insulation: bustling Wilhelmstrasse is also very noisy.
The office windows looking out onto the courtyard have been fitted with the same combination of functional glazing. Some windows, where security is a priority, have been made with Pilkington Optilam™ OW laminated security glass, which is resistant to projectiles. To increase their transparency, Pilkington Optiwhite™, an extra clear glass, has been used.
Photography: H. G. Esch
*This type of glass is not produced any more but we have a wide range of Pilkington Suncool™ high performance solar control glass available.