Perimeter blockSlab, corridorSlab, gallery-accessSlab, point-accessTower
Lindenstrasse Apts.
Kollhoff, Hans & Arthur Ovaska | Berlin, Germany | 1982-86
Image of Lindenstra...
Lindenstrasse (west) facade.

ProjectLindenstrasse Apts.
ArchitectKollhoff, Hans & Arthur Ovaska
AddressLindenstrasse/Am Berlin Museum (Frederichstadt)
Building TypePerimeter block
Slab, gallery access
Slab, point-access
Number of DwellingsNA
Date Built1982-86
Dwelling Typesstudios, 1,2,& 3 bra. flats, maisonettes in top floors
No. Floors8
Section Typeflats and maisonettes (gallery)
Exterior Finish
brick, plaster,metal details, wood windows
Construction TypeR-C frame
Ancillary Servicesparking below, balconies

Like most IBA projects, this project began as a limited competition and ended with many architects each designing part of a much-revised overall site concept. The competition area was one of the most important points of South Frederichstadt along Lindenstrasse which had been one of the major streets radiating from the former circular square at the southern end of Friedrichstadt which aligned with the grid of Luisenstadt to the east. Beginning as an exclusive residential zone adjacent to northern Friedrichstadt along the Unter den Linden, Lindenstrasse became a district of commercial, banking, and government buildings. Some of the buildings of the former era survived the destruction of WWII including the Victoria Insurance Building of 1906, the Berlin Museum, formerly the Supreme Court designed by Philipp Gerlach in 1734, and the Metal Workers' Building, designed by Erich Mendelsohn in 1929.

The Kollhoff/Ovaska solution to the competition area bounded by Lindenstrasse, Ritterstrasse, and Alte Jakobstrasse, consists of several elements. The large perimeter block of new buildings north of Ritterstrasse was to be the model for the organization of the open space east of the Victoria Insurance Building. A new, thin slab, the same height as Victoria was to line the blank southern party wall of the side of this block fronting a new east/west street, Am Berlin Museum. Two new slabs to the north, south, and east sides of the museum were to define a larger garden that was also connected by a north/south axis passing through the interior of the block connecting the block north of Ritterstrasse with a new park proposed around Mendelsohn's Metal Workers' Building at the southern tip of the site.

In the final awarding of commissions for this quarter, Kollhoff and Ovaska designed only the wall along Am Berlin Museum and a small tower on the interior of the block marking the north/south axis through the block . They also received the commission for the design of the Museum Gardens which had been an important feature of their competition design. Other architects designed the other buildings in a much different scheme consisting mostly of freestanding "urban villas" that are in sharp contrast to the perimeter block idea.

The new thin wall of dwellings along AM Berlin Museum attaches to the side of Victoria establishing the corner of Lindenstrasse and AM Berlin Museum before continuing along the southern edge of the block. The main mass of the building is rendered as an undecorated white plaster wall recalling Berlin popular housing of the 1920's. Attached to this wall is a zone of balconies and sun rooms that are finished in brick and treated architectonically as a response to the giant order of Victoria continuing this height around the corner and along AM Berlin Museum. This giant order/portico creates a zone of building and apartment entrances, private, walled, raised gardens, as well as making a gateway to the landscaped interior of the block. This applied brick layer, recalling similar massing strategies used in the Vienna höfe of the 1920's, provides a formal relief from what would otherwise be a rather bland, unarticulated facade and, while it consists of regular dimensions, it is not altogether repetitive, a response to the variety of the plan and section organization. This long wall contains a variety of flats and upper maisonettes arranged in a combination of point-access and gallery-access section types. The garden facade is finished in plaster--gray and white--again recalling the imagery of popular German housing of the 1920's. The center zone of the garden facade is detailed as a glass curtain wall, marking the north-south axis through the block.

The tower to the north, on axis across the garden, appears to be a segment of the perimeter slabs, now rendered as a freestanding element that incorporates the multiple-layering qualities of the slab now compressed and reversed with brick detailed as recessed rather than applied panels. The tower has a single stair and elevator and two flats per floor. The attic zone of maisonettes in the slabs are also expressed here as a white plaster cornice to the building.

The IBA policy of dividing commissions among several architects for each of the IBA districts was doubtless intended to spread the design opportunities amongst as many architects as possible. It is probably also obvious that the result of this policy has been the fragmented nature of the finished IBA blocks where the unified quality of the competition entries has given way to a much more fragmented reality. In this scenario, the "urban villa" has become the dominant paradigm of the IBA building program where even the perimeter block concept is considered as a row of separate albeit attached buildings rather than as a connected, unified whole. The autonomous nature of the individual commissions may also have had an impact on the transformation of the interior of the block from a private realm defined by buildings around the outside of the block to a public realm serving pedestrian movement through the inside of the block. This change in the definition of the public nature of the street versus the private nature of the space within the block may also be the result of a general reaction to modernist housing ideas derived from legacy of the zeilenbau. This ambiguity between traditional block vs. zeilenbau building models--perimeter vs. a continuing source of confusion in many IBA sites. By comparison, the Kollhoff/Ovaska model successfully combines modernist residential models--the continuous slab and the freestanding tower--to redefine old Friedrichstadt block morphologies.

Internationale Bauausstgellung Berlin, 1987, Bauausstgellung Berlin GMBH, Berlin, 1987, pp. 178-80.

Architectural Review, April, 1987, pp. 51-55.

Bauwelt, No. 47, 1986, pp. 1794-1805.

Architectural Review, Sept, 1984, p. 61-62.

International Building Exhibition Berlin 1987,Rizzoli, New York, 1986, pp. 201-05.

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