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Netherlands Embassy

Klosterstra├če 50
Berlin, Germany

Completed: 2003
Architects: OMA/Rem Koolhaas
Engineer: Royal Haskoning + Arup Berlin
Project Management: Royal Haskoning

Total: 8.500m2
Offices: 4.800m2
Housing 1.500m2
Parking 2.200m2

The Netherlands Embassy in Berlin is a “disciplined cube with equally disciplined irregularities”, as described by OMA/Rem Koolhaas. (3) The site allotted to construct the embassy was fairly small and square in shape. The need to maximize the building’s size on such a small site and the need to create a design that synthesized with the traditional Berlin architecture inspired the architects to base the structure on a simple cube. (1) From here, architectural forms and oddities were added (or removed) with respect to form, function, and statement.

The main trajectory wraps in and around the building, and is accented with larger windows and a unique mullion.
Photo From:

The trajectory connects all the major functions of the building and serves as a guide to both experienced inhabitants and visiting guests. (4) To emphasize the trajectory’s importance, the main HVAC flow was integrated with it. (4) An unfolded plan of the trajectory is below.
Photo from:

A restriction placed on the design required a wall to be placed on the street-side of the structure, between the main building and the rest of the city. The architects turned this “wall” into a structure of its own, housing residents for the diplomats and officials who live in the embassy. (5) Perforated metal was used instead of glass to prevent over-contrast with the 19th century city, and to allow light in without compromising privacy. (1) The residential wall and office cube are connected via paths that continue the cubic theme while simultaneously adding interest.

The overall design can be paralleled to the demeanor of a diplomat. Where the adherence to Berlin’s rules and the overall cubic form represent the diplomat’s calm exterior, the unconventional geometries and winding trajectory equate to the diplomat’s constantly vital, internal mind. (1) OMA/Rem Koolhaas described the building as both “obedient” and “disobedient”. (3)

Additional photos:

A cube-breaking form houses the conference room, featuring windows on 3 walls:

Model created by OMA/Rem Koolhaas to design trajectory:

Openings in the cube and in the outer wall were planned to allow a view of the Television Tower:

The angled geometries in the main entrance contrast with the cubic forms just outside the front entry:

1- Chaslin, Francois. “The Dutch Embassy in Berlin by OMA/Rem Koolhaas”
2- Koolhaas, Rem. “Considering Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture”
3- “OMA – Netherlands Embassy”.
4- “OMA/Rem Koolhaas”.
5- “Dutch Embassy Berlin”.

Written by Michael Atmadja

September 12, 2010 at 5:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized