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.
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.
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 Krüger Schuberth Vandreike.