“The human being creates phenomena only the void enables it to use.” Lao-Tzu
The difficulty of the Ministry of Ecology and Urban Development (Behörde für Umwelt und Stadtentwicklung, BSU) project lay in the invention of an architectural apparatus whose effectiveness could be translated into architectural language: - an urban answer to a constantly evolving context. - the environmental ambitions. - a response to the workplace, particularly the internal and external communication sought.
Our proposal takes up this challenge, developing the architectural, urban and energy concept via a single and unique strategy. This strategy is based on the conviction that architecture is first and foremost a reflection on the perception of scale and that the creation of an exceptional living space involves the ‘rightness’ of its scale and use of empty and solid space. The project developed around the definition of empty space and its meaning on different scales. A system of empty spaces used as reference points and microclimatic zones provides a kind of backbone for the building. These spaces are modulated contextually and respond intelligently to the project’s demands. From the foyer, the empty spaces structure the accesses to the ministry’s different entities. Internal circulation is enlivened by shortcuts creating additional communication spaces.
The building (height 54m) is a landmark both on the scale of the district and the city as a whole. The atriums create visual links with the forecourt, the park and the city centre.
With its ‘large windows’ looking out onto the park, the south side of the building has a monumentality transcending the mere office block facade and giving the ensemble the necessary symbolic power.
The visitor’s itinerary is guided by the access to the foyer and the arcades revealing the ministry’s public uses, especially the large scale model room at the corner of the building beneath the tower. The atriums serve as both workplaces and communication spaces. They lead to the offices and encourage contacts between employees.
The architecture is composed of light, glass and finely screened steel. The architecture softens the building’s tangible limits by rendering the perception of solid volumes superfluous within the poetics of the blurred and evanescent.