The German architecture firm Sauerbruch Hutton, founded in 1989 by Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton, has developed a portfolio of sophisticated, technologically savvy, modern buildings. The firm’s work includes cultural buildings such as the Brandhorst Museum in Munich,
and offices such as the Federal Environmental Agency in Dessau and KfW Westarkade in Frankfurt, which the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named as the 2011 Best Tall Building Worldwide in November. The vibrant polychromatic exteriors in the Sauerbruch
Hutton portfolio are in contrast to the sublime, monochromatic interior of the firm’s own office in what had been known as the Prussian uniform factory L57.
L57 is the largest of nine buildings in a former military complex constructed around 1900 for the Prussian army at its training grounds in Berlin-Moabit. The complex was largely abandoned from the end of World War II to the 1970s, when artists and architects started inhabiting the raw, unencumbered industrial spaces. Sauerbruch Hutton staked a claim on and designed its offices within L57 as a combination of renovation and new construction, including two new floors on top of the building (top, left). The project includes an adjacent studio and apartment for artist Karin Sander.
Inside, the office for 60 Sauerbruch Hutton employees includes open
workstations (above) and, near the building core, private offices enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass walls that allow for transparency and daylight penetration. Hollow core concrete beams, nearly 40 feet long, span the width of the building to open and declutter interior volumes.
A north-facing saw-tooth roof (opposite, top left) bathes the architects’ studio with clear, uniform, natural light. The top floor has been divided laterally, with two 970-square-foot spaces—one a new reception area, the other a conference room (opposite, bottom)—linked by a spacious gallery that gives access to a library and five smaller offices (opposite, top right) and meeting rooms. Off-white walls and acoustically and visually “soft” pale Douglas fir flooring contribute to an atmosphere that is both creative and professional, without losing the original industrial aesthetic.
Overall, the project was designed for significant flexibility. What is now an office and studio could easily be converted into residences without considerable construction. The architects are conscious that their
office holds one moment in the building’s history.
Sauerbruch Hutton office. Architect Sauerbruch Hutton. Where Berlin, Germany. What 10,550 total square feet on two floors. Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request.