Located at the junction of Leipziger Platz and Postdamer Platz where a portion of the Berlin Wall still stands, the new Canadian Embassy is one of several initiatives in the city’s third wave of reconstruction. The design participates in the reconstruction of the original octagonal wall of Leipziger Platz, and conforms to the stringent planning and design guidelines set out by the District Office of Central Berlin which dictated a stone exterior with punched windows, and 22 meter setbacks.
Architect: Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB Architects) with Gagnon Letellier Cyr architectes and Smith Carter Architects + Engineers
Location: Leipziger Platz 17, Berlin, Germany
KPMB Team: Franciska Cape, Bill Colaco, Deni Di Filippo, Brian Graham, Simon Haus, Robert Kastelic, Carolyn Lee, Dan Nawrocki, Riki Nishimura, Karen Petrachenko, Shadi Rahbaran, Bruno Weber
Gagnon Letellier Cyr Team: Marc Letellier, Michel Gagnon (senior architects); Simon Brochu, Jean-Sebastien Laberge (architects); Pierre Michaud, Réal St.-Pierre, Guylaine Lehoux (technologists), Simon Brochu
Smith Carter Architects Principals: James Yamashita (project management); Takashi Yamashita (A/E integration); Colin Gibbs (structural); Jim McEwan (mechanical), Howard Procychyn (electrical), Sam Cox
Local Executive Architect: Pysall Ruge Von Matt Architekten
Local Consulting Architect: Rave Architekten
Structural Engineer: GSE Ingenieur-Gesellschaft mbH Saar, Enselett und Partner
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Happold Ingenieurbüro GmbH
Landscape: Cornelia Hahn Oberlander
Office Interiors: Vogel Architects
Lighting: Suzanne Powadiuk Design
Cost: Vermeulens Cost Consultants
Developer: Hanover Leasing, Tercon Immobilien
Project Area: 180,000 sqf
Project Year: 2005
Photographs: Foto Design, A-Frame
The winning submission in a national design competition, the design expresses elements of Canada’s identity which conforms to Berlin’s stringent design guidelines. In addition to housing the Canadian mission and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the ten-story structure also provides commercial offices and residential space.
The embassy’s material palette represents several regions of Canada and provides a rich dynamic of interior and exterior spaces for diplomatic, business and cultural activities. On axis with the main entrance in the central bay of the Leipziger Platz façade is the Timber Hall. This decahedral room, which is wrapped by a gently ascending circular stair, is the focus of the design and informs both interior and exterior spaces.
On the ground floor, an exhibition room can be opened up either entirely or selectively to this central space, allowing it to accommodate a variety of large events or devote itself exclusively and securely to diplomatic functions. Above, the Timber Hall, which is open to the sky via a lightly framed glazed skylight system, includes a state-of-the-art conference facility and first-class conference room. Its exterior is copper; the treads and risers of the grand curved stairway are constructed of Ontario limestone. The building exterior is faced with Tyndall limestone from Manitoba. On the south side of the site, a water element creates an unexpected urban oasis.