Gallery Giti Nourbakhsch - Berlin - Germany
A commercial enterprise moves out; a new use moves in. Not much had to be changed— the building’s basic structure is cleaned out, cleared, and left bare. New windows offer new spatial connections. Here is a place to live, work, exhibit art, or set up a new business.
Gallery owner Giti Nourbakhsch had approached two architectural firms to develop a redevelopment strategy for the courtyard and its heterogeneous buildings.
The contract finally went “to us, because we were not interested in the homogenization of the façades, bur rather in the charms of the existing site and the proposed mix of uses”, according to the architects Robertneun™.
The existing buildings were the starting point for the programming and architectural concept. Relying on the raw and the robust, the architects uncovered the idiosyncratic nature of the promises that had last been used by a window company.
For the location of her new gallery, the client sought a location off the beaten track from the areas occupied by the art scene - something both urban as well as idyllic.
On Kurfürstenstrasse, she found a courtyard with a small garden, flanked by buildings from the late nineteenth-century Gründerzeit period. The courtyard held a three-part ensemble: a two-story, Gründerzeit factory building, a single-story shed, and a central building from the 1970s that had been used as an office. These three very different buildings had been outfitted by the previous users with dropped ceiling panels, industrial needle-punched carpeting, wood wool insulation panels, and plasterboard walls. The architects developed a strategy in which all the buildings were first almost completely stripped down to their bare structure, leaving only pure space.
The result was a kind of “blank space”, a hollow into which the new use would be implanted. The outer appearance would remain distinguished through the contrasting original façades made of concrete, brick masonry, and turquoise-colored siding.
The gutter rooms retained their original structural surfaces: whitewashed concrete glazed and painted brick walls, rough plastered masonry walls, and painted timber framing, as well as the typical terrazzo and chrome staircase railings from the 1970s.
The threefold building ensemble supported their allocation as separate spaces for exhibitions, office, and living. However, the architects also planned for overlapping use and intermediate zones: the kitchen would become a bar during exhibition openings, and the exhibition space could otherwise be used for living. To establish a link between the various uses, as well as to create new spatial relationships, the architects cut large windows at four places in the building ensemble. The gallery’s final exhibition opened in January 2012. The area around Kurfürstenstrasse has since become a hotspot for art, while the gallery pioneer has retired to the residential building, renting out the two outbuildings. The converted structure will now be able to prove its adaptability to new uses.