Humboldt Box | Berlin / Krüger Schuberth Vandreike

© Nelson Garrido

Architect: Krüger Schuberth Vandreike (KSV)
Location: Berlin,
Project Team: Bertram Vandreike, Christiane Schuberth, Torsten Krüger, Markus Reinhardt, Emanuel Weu, Silke Jänicke, Annemike Banniza, Philipp Stachat,Philipp Janke, Karena Filter
Client: Megaposter GmbH, Neuss
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Nelson Garrido

© Nelson Garrido

“Transitory Architecture”
The Humboldt Box will accompany the building of the Humboldt Forum/Stadtschloss Berlin as an information and exhibition structure. As a temporary building, it will be dismantled with the completion of the Humboldt Forum after a predicted lifetime eight years. Until then, later users of the Humboldt Forum – among them the National Museums in Berlin, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation as well as the Central and Regional Library Berlin – will be using the structure to provide a glimpse into their various collections. The Association for the Rebuilding of the Berliner Stadtschloss will be informing visitors about the history of the Berlin Palace, the reconstruction of the palace façade, and the historical courtyard.


In this sense, the Humboldt Box is a communication structure that draws on familiar elements of temporary and technical construction, as commonly seen in scaffolding, stilt houses, tents or drilling platforms. The transitory architecture will occupy a sensitive spot in the immediate vicinity of the Altes Museum, Lustgarten, and Berlin Cathedral, where the Unter den Linden avenue makes a slight turn into Spree Island. The view from the roof terrace offers an impression of the city’s size along with a surprisingly close relationship to the important places and buildings in Berlin’s historical Mitte district. With the start of construction for the underground railway and Humboldt Forum, the Humboldt Box will have to compete visually with the scaffolding and cranes that surround it. The guidelines for the structure’s volume and purpose were described in detail in the competition announcement. The smallish building lot was tightly allocated to accommodate the larger site for the palace, and the majority of the lot was to be kept open to maintain easy access to pipeline routes. The diagonal sections traversing the allocated rectangular building area and the silhouette turn the box into a freestanding sculpture, mediating the kink in the street axis. The above-ground supporting structure is a reaction to or reflection of these unique constraints: steel beams – vertical in the outer skeleton and horizontal at the ceiling-edge areas – are hung or slotted into the reinforced concrete floors and stairwells. The weight of the total of seven building levels is borne by four plinths located within the specified areas. This inevitably leads to high load concentrations that are carried by drilled shafts, whose depth (27 m) corresponds to the building height.

© Nelson Garrido

The distinctive structure of the steel skeleton results from optimised force distribution; it forms the framework for the changeable surface covering and has a high recognition factor. From its construction hoarding to its alterable cladding, “frame” and “perforation” are key elements with which the notion of the “temporary” can be staged and re-staged over the entire lifecycle of the Box.

© Nelson Garrido

The design and technical solution of employing the textile covering as an outer shell is based on the experience of the Megaposter company, and also points to the company’s expertise in implementing unusual, large-area billboard advertisements. Between the fabric and the building’s actual, porous concrete cladding is a 30 cm gap that is lit from behind. Swapping the textile covering

Text provided by KSV .

© Nelson Garrido

Project Director: gassert a+i berlin
Site Supervision: Ingenieurbüro Widell
Support Structure Planning / Fire Protection Design: Krone Hamann Reinke Ingenieurbüro GmbH
Building Technology: Beratende Ingenieure für Energie- und Gebäudetechnik GmbH, Ingenieurgesellschaft Zimmermann für Gebäude- und Labortechnik mbH
Lighting and Media Planning: LichtVision
Façade Planning: Wagner + Partner

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Humboldt Box | Berlin / Krüger Schuberth Vandreike" 19 Oct 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 01 Apr 2015. <>
  • Nik Skavinsky

    I’ve found particularly this building really disturbing compared to the city center view.

  • mo

    seen this a few days ago, it’s really a big mistake especially next to the berlin dome, altes museum.. this thing looks pathetic.
    colors are a terrible, fake wannabe liebeskind structural expression, outdated fashion-polygonal shape.
    I’m pretty sure now these architects see what they have done they must be like “oh sh**T!! how did the city let me build this??”

  • sab

    Good thing it’s temporary. In every other way it’s a disaster.