GKD Escale Encapsulates City Center In Berlin

September 20, 2016

Seven buildings surround a sprawling courtyard in the historic heart of Berlin at the Potsdamer Platz. The most impressive out of the cluster of office centers is the central plaza canopied by a towering tent structure made from glass and steel. German-American architect, Helmut Jahn of Murphy-Jahn Architects, designed the reconstruction project that won the original design competition. Also, notably, consulting with the architects was the world-renowned multi-disciplinary engineering firm, Arup

The $800 million Sony Center in Berlin put Jahn on the map in the capital city. Jahn set out to create a metaphorical landmark representative of both realistic and virtual characteristics of the thriving area. Everywhere from the dramatic forum to the many cafes, it is evident that light was at the axis of the design. Both natural and artificial light have a way of playing with the glass and steel structure whose design was meant to encourage social interaction and cultivate culture. The interior is intended to resemble a virtual city, while the exterior mimics the city more subtly.

Where typical socialization in Berlin takes place at outdoor cafes, the Sony Center aimed to create an indoor social experience complete with shops, museums, and cinemas.  The center is comprised of seven buildings surrounding a main courtyard with a theatrical, canopied roof. The reconstruction project spreads the equivalent of four football fields or 87,000 square feet. The sprawling city center also houses 60 private rental units and 134 condominium apartments.

Urban streets and spaces surround the Sony German headquarters, marking one of few qualities that are traditional. Light is permitted from the central plaza canopy resembling a horizontal bicycle wheel. In order to achieve the lighting concept, the architect specified GKD metal fabric, Escale 7 x 1, to encapsulate the buildings. The stainless steel material, custom made for this project, beautifully transmits natural light from the outside, and then reflects artificial light at night.

GKD’s Escale creates a dynamic façade that changes with the angles of the sun and permits ample air circulation. Metal fabric is also incredibly sustainable and virtually maintenance-free – making the material as much of an economic choice as a design choice.  The stainless steel weaving has the added bonus of optimizing comfort while minimizing the use of energy resources. The central plaza boasts no artificial heating or cooling and claims up to ten degrees cooler temperatures during the summer months.

information and photography courtesy of Arch Daily

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