Winter 2014

Garage Extruder

Prof. Dr. sc. ETH Rainer Hehl // 1st Semester MA // Winter 2014/15
Award at Concrete Design Competition 14/15
Rita Rocha + Max Rudolph

The history of Mehringplatz dates back to the 18th century. In the first project for the square, the circular space was sided by low, three storey buildings and the houses would have had gardens in the backyards. However, in the end of the 19th century, with the huge development of Berlin, the picture changed: a dense, continuous, five storey residential building filled the block, leaving almost no open space.
The bombings during the World War II almost completely devastated this area. This was seen as an opportunity to reorganize the city plan. In 1962, the project by Hans Scharoun, an adaptation of the historical form, with a double, low, circular building, was selected to be built. This building was surrounded by skyscrapers and parking places.
In 1968, Werner Düttmann made the project for the Building B. The area should be densely and highly explored. However, at the level of the pedestrians, the ground floor must be left completely free for them to cross.
The high slab blocks in the north and east limits shield against the traffic noise. The facades of shops and restaurants mark the old dimension of the square.

150130_Urban Axonometry

The building from Werner Düttmann was part of a massive construction of residential buildings (circa 1550 flats organized in four buildings – A, B, C, and D). It also included an elderly home, a kindergarten and nursery, a community home, shops, and parking spaces (75% in the basement). In the Building B the ground-floor was left open for shops, accessible from the park in front and the accesses to the upper floors.

The research and analysis of the place made clear that the main problem in the Werner Düttmann’s building was not regarding its living function but its commercial use in the ground floor which is now completely empty. This situation also applies to the building at its right.
The second acknowledgment was that also the park/square in front of it was used exclusively to cross and all its potential was lost.
The Extraspacecraft intervention combines, in the same intervention, the resolution of these two problems – improving the square in order to improve the surroundings.

The intervention takes its program and characteristics from the context in which it inserts. The structure is also taken from the site – the generic grid from the garage under the square. A compact building is constructed above, leaving the ground floor free to be crossed and to make the accesses to the upper levels.

Bringing density and people to the area, creating housing and improving the landscape will create the conditions for the commercial function to work. At the ground floor the possibilities to beneficiate from the park are infinitive with alternated zones of vegetation and concrete associated with trees, benches, a playground and a skating park. At the roof the neighbours have the possibility not only to profit from a terrace directly above their houses but also to share this space and interact with the others.

CONTEXT // 1. existing situation // 2. extrude the underground parking for circulation // 3. perforate the volume for light reasons and to plant trees


GENERIC // 1. underground parking with existing grid // 2. defining different flat types // 3. creating an artificial typography


150129_Explosion [Konvertiert]





The project is published in the book “Belin Transfer”, edited by Rainer Hehl and Ludwig Engel, Ruby Press 2015 and soon available at your local book seller and in our webshop.

„What happens if you take the conceptual essence of a design that has worked well in one place and invest it in another? This is the scenario proposed by “Berlin Transfer”. Inverting the direction in which knowledge has been exported since colonial times, the book reveals the potential of architectural and urban design concepts from the Global South to inform unconventional approaches of urban development in the northern hemisphere.

„Berlin Transfer—Hybrid Modernities“ invests a sensual reading of Brazilian hedonistic modernism to challenge the generic, if not austere appeal of Berlin’s modernist housing complexes. By applying strategies of extension, insertion and reprogrammation to existing buildings, the book exposes an unlikely contextual potential of generic urban prototypes from Berlin’s post-war era.“

Berlin Transfer_Hybrid Modernities