The old chocolate factory, built around 1870, gained quite some fame for it ́s wild living communities already end of the seventies. The central location in the district of Neu- kölln, very close to the better known Kreuz- berg, a lively area commonly referred to as „Kreuzkölln“ made the old factory popular among dwellers immediately after the end of production. Those wild days are over for a couple of years already and most of the factory floors of the „Schokoladenfabrik“ are in private hands now. The apartment H is one of those, even though it was and will be still used as a shared flat by the daughter of the clients and her friends. Mandatory fire prevention measures on the original cast iron bearing structure made it necessary to completely remove all non structural additions from the apartment. This situation was used to overhaul and renovate the whole apartment, making it ready for the next decades in one big step. The new floor plan now provides the perfect layout for the needs of the flat mates. A ge- nerous open-plan kitchen and living room, three rooms of the same size, a big shower bath and a little extra toilet for guests and the morning rush. A beautiful place not only as a shared apartment but also as a future retreat for the clients themselves.
Location The old factory is situated in the backyard of a compact city block of the Berlin district of Neukölln. The proximity to the „Landwehr- channel“ and the busy centers of Kottbusser Tor and Hermannplatz accounts for its popularity amongst dwellers. The flat is located on the 2nd floor, whereas two floors below on the raised ground floor the "Sauspiel Office" - also refurbished by the IFUB* - is situated.
History The “Schokoladenfabrik” was built around 1870 and is therefore one of the oldest pre- served commercial buildings in this part of Berlin. From 1926 to 1973 chocolate was produced here for real - giving name to the build- ing up until today. In 1976/1977 the building gained some fame, as it was converted into shared flats against the will of the building authorities. Even though the owner of the building approved the conversion, the building was more than once threatened to be cleared by the authorities. In the end, the eviction never happened and the fame of the Schokoladenfabrik spread across the city, nurtured by parties of the residents, the first turkish cultural association of Berlin and the kids theatre “Klecks”. It was end of the nineties, beginning of the noughties, when the old rental contracts were ended and a slow conversion began. The new owner divided the building, selling it in parts to private and commercial clients alike. This made new fire prevention measures neces- sary which not only account for the ugly new fire escape in the middle of the facade but also for the complete refurbishment of the bearing structure. Fortunately massive inter- ventions were renounced there, even though this formative building has never been put under monumental protection.
Spatial Concept Mandatory fire prevention measures on the original cast iron bearing structure made it necessary to completely remove all non struc- tural additions from the apartment. The ideal new layout was found quickly. The L-shaped unit is now separated into a more public area with an open-plan kitchen, living room and guest-toilet, and a more private area with three rooms for the flatmates around a new shower bath. An additional window behind the modest kitchen unit brightens up the already pleasant open-plan kitchen. The new guest toilet is aligned with the columns in a way that subdivides the big com- munal space into a lounging and a moving area.
Sustainability, Material, Colour Conversions, especially when only taking place in a smaller part of a building, very seldomly offer many possibilities for eco-friendly optimizations. Therefore, similar to the „Sauspiel Office“ two floors below, the most important part was to secure and uncover as many original materials and surfaces as possible. All new materials were chosen by criterias of high quality and maximum durability. On the contrary the windows were treated different from the raised ground floor unit. As there was already an insulated wooden new kitchen window and a new balcony door it made sense to exchange all other windows as well. This lead not only to a significant de- crease of energy consumption but also to a noteable improvement of comfort. To make sure the new windows would fit to the rest of the building, the smallest possible profiles were chosen. Also different from the „Sauspiel Office“ the vaulted brick ceilings were not sandblasted but kept with the orginial white, thin plaster surface that shows the texture of the bricks. In combination with the white columns and beams the spatial impression is completely different. Structure, ceiling and walls fade into the background, while the eye focusses on furnishing, residents and the beautiful original brick floor. This floor was uncovered, cleaned, sanded and oiled in the whole flat. All new additions were designed accordingly unpretentious and modest and are painted in white. Especially the flush mount, frameless white doors need to be mentioned in this context. Only inside the showerbath new surfaces were added. All interior walls were coated in a traditional moroccan mineral lime plaster. This waterproof and at the same time diffu- sion-open surface is polished with stones which also adds a slightly shiny impression. The beige-white of the material, together with the traces of workmanship and the rounded edges creates a beautiful, relaxing atmosphere. The floor was chosen in a matching grey, waxed concrete surface.
Living room and kitchen The generous living room with the open-plan kitchen is much more organized and spacious now, as the former big bathroom there was reduced to a tiny guest toilet. The new window behind the kitchen unit and the enlarged exit to the new balcony behind the fire exit provide more natural light.
Rooms With the new layout three rooms with almost the exact same size were created. They are arranged around the new showerbath and combined with an almost invisible white built- in storage cabinet.
Guest toilet The former bathroom in the living room was completely demolished and replaced by a minimized toilet for guests. The walls on the inside are only painted with the usual white silicate colour, whereas the wall behind toilet and sink was coated with a 2K-PU varnish that is water repellent and easy to clean.
Showerbath In the private area of the flat the new shower- bath was placed between two rooms. The straight tripartition into a WC-, sink- and shower-area and the flush mount mirror cabinet ensure an always tidy appearance.