Otto Bock / Gnädinger Architekten

© die photodesigner

Architects: Gnädinger Architekten
Location: Berlin,
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 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.

© die photodesigner

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.

© die photodesigner

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.

floor plan

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.

© die photodesigner

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.

© die photodesigner

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.

Cite: "Otto Bock / Gnädinger Architekten" 07 Jan 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Jul 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=45655>

17 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Hmm…

    I’m not sure what to say about this. I think it’s too over-designed. The interior-space looks very uncomfortable. Some nice stairs, walls and details but too clean and too white over all. I also absolutely don’t like the entrance. The shapes around the door have nothing to do with the rest the building’s formal language. I wouldn’t like to work in there. Sorry… Architecture is not Design. They can be combined but Design isn’t able to work like Architecture.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Love or Hate?
    Shell we love the German architects for actually building the conceptual renderings, which were done 5 years earlier in the US-american academia context ? (see also Jurgen Mayer H work).

    Or would we rather never have seen the rather formalistic exercise in real – and kept the beauty of the idea before its somewhat dull actualization?

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I saw this building when I was in Berlin last week. It is actually quite stunning, not dull at all. I think it’s refreshing to see something clean, minimalist and white especially in the context of its location – just a few blocks away from the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and other historical sites. And especially when compared to the eyesore that is the Sony Center (also nearby at Potsdamer Platz), I thought this was really nicely done.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      the sony center was completed as an engineering feat. creating a reinstating postdamer platz as center of berlin. this building is for me incredibly pretentious – “nur Privatversicherung erlaubt” and despite its intricacies looks surprisingly cheap.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    It’s funny, isn’t it?
    Most of our cities today are filled with poor imitations of modernist classics.
    Now I can see a future where our cities will be filled with poor facsimiles of deconstructivist icons.
    In my opinion, this building wanted to be a crazy blob, but then got a bit scared, had its budget cut, and ended up as a bit of graphic design stuck on the outside of an otherwise dull commercial proposition.
    But most people will think its ‘crazy’ and ‘interesting’ and ‘cutting edge’.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    to do a throwback expressionistic building with no reference to hadid or gehry or the others in this day and age is quite a feat, and this building accomplishes just that exquisitely.
    i love it and think it deserves praise.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I like the concept. It does architecturaly express a vivid space to orthopedic medical requirements. But I believe that the interior is white. There is a lack of space definition to cnotrast with the white surfaces. The building facade look almost like Toyo Ito’s works.
    But well done, a new language for the fast growing health care.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    after a superficial stare at the project, nothing to me is as interesting as the very first image with the black building -similar size/proportions- creating a nice contrast with the white one.

    if I’d own that building, I would never let the black building go down before it :)

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