Architects: Gnädinger Architekten
Location: Berlin, Germany
Project team: Christoph Claus (director in charge), Rolf Gnädinger, Babette Drilling, Ayfer Zeissig
Project Area: 2,289 sqm
Project Year: 2007-2009
Photographs: die photodesigner
Since the summer 2009 thousands of visitors are attracted to the OTTO BOCK health care exhibition center in Berlin. The German firm Gnädinger Architekten developed and finished a spectacular building for the worlds leading company in medical orthopedic technology. Using state of the art media installations the exhibitions demonstrate the most innovative products and designs in this fast growing field of health care.
OTTO BOCK GmbH expects more than 200,000 customers and guests in the coming year. Since the opening of the building two months ago more than 20.000 visitors experienced the media installations on movement and mobility. Most attractive is the pronounced architectural design of Gnädinger Architekten, an architectural firm, located here in Berlin. In the centre of the German capitol – next to the Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate – the architects have placed this compact building on a prominent diamond shaped lot.
Gnädinger’s design approach is a courageous step within Berlins rigid public design policy, which advocates regular geometries and the use of stone and glass. Within the immediate neighborhood of Richard Rogers, Helmut Jahn, Hans Kollhoff, Renzo Piano and gmp buildings this remarkable ‘dynamic cube’ stands for an authentic individuality:
Keeping an adequate distance to the neighboring buildings the over- all building plan follows the irregular shape of the lot. Six floors with a total of 1.300 square meters (3,900 sq.ft.) provide public exhibition and consultation spaces. The diamond shaped floors are enclosed by an irregularly curved expressive aluminium-glass facade.
Based on the idea of human muscle sections Gnädinger designed abstract, amorphous white aluminium facade panels. They dynamically wrap around the floor spaces with convex and concave, converging and diverging lines of clear cut aluminium sheets and their overlaid glazing, so as not to reveal the precision techniques of the construction behind.
The first three floor levels serve as exhibition space with interactive and realistic presentations and simulations of the technically most advanced orthopedic products. The other exhibition floors provide seminar and conference rooms as well as spaces for consultations between patients, doctors, therapists and orthopedic technicians. Representatives of the manufacturing field complement OTTO BOCK’s project idea of a building in service for clients and patients.
The program spaces are organized around the central core which houses vertical circulation spaces and ares for building services. This open floor arrangement allows for a maximum of flexibility and variety of room sizes. It guarantees a maximum of daylight use in all usable spaces along the dynamically wrapped glass facade.
The detailing has a strong minimalistic focus: Most surfaces, including all furnishings and exhibition objects are white in contrast to floors in natural stone and carpets, both in silver grey. In some selected areas, such as the elevator, the use of dark hardwood panels offer a contrasting, stimulating focus.
At the solid interior core impressive, colourfully printed glass panels are applied, which also serve as information media by using integrated TV-monitors. They provide a balancing contrast to the overall ‘composition in white’.
Gnädinger’s vision was an integration of the highly developed aesthetics in industrial design with the requirements of medical technology into a lively total building design. This expressive exhibition building can be understood as a representation of the clients profile and expertise in functional design of dynamic precision.