David Kohn Architects and Nord Studio offset careful restoration with boldly coloured interventions in a listed Berlin office conversion


Will Pryce

The principal piano nobile floor of a listed neoclassical building in Berlin has been converted into the new office for developer Euroboden by London-based David Kohn Architects in collaboration with local architect Nord Studio. Euroboden is deeply involved in local architectural culture, supporting exhibitions, talks programmes and publications, and so wanted its offices to also provide a venue to support these initiatives, as well as expressing its dedication to quality, individuality and sustainability.

The Palais Eger is an imposing Belle Époque courtyard villa, built in 1881 by architects Georg Wex and Gustav Knoblauch for wealthy timber merchants Carl and Paul Eger. Located on Tempelhofer Ufer in Berlin-Kreuzberg, it was one of Berlin’s most expensive residential buildings of the time, and combined living accommodation with business, with a series of grand high-ceilinged timber-panelled rooms that would have played host to customers.

The architects sought to enhance the historic character of the interiors by creating flexible spaces able to host a variety of activities – from day-to-day desk-based work and meetings to public events and displays – much in the same way as the building had originally been conceived.

Each of the listed rooms has a unique and distinctive character. The main salon has marquetry floors, timber wainscoting and pilasters that rise to meet a gilded and coved frieze that frames an elaborate timber ceiling. A hallway leading to the salon similarly has elaborate painted timber wainscoting, frieze and ceiling. In the rich variety of interior spaces and tapering plan, DKA and Nord Studio saw parallels with John Soane’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields house, and they sought to echo Soane’s blurring of lines between living and working spaces to create an air of “productive domesticity” as a clear contrast to typical commercial interiors. The resulting office suite is conceived as a series of domestic landscapes, with eight rooms that are sufficiently comfortable for visitors to want to linger.

Historic features in the listed rooms have been carefully restored, and are contrasted by the bold contemporary treatment of the rooms and spaces beyond. The contrast is highlighted in particular by the use of colour: two-tone schemes are suggestive of wainscoting and distinguish each space to create a series of different atmospheres. Loose furniture was specified by DKA and Nord Studio to suggest social settings familiar from nineteenth-century domestic interiors, expanding upon the juxtaposition of contemporary design within a heritage setting.

DKA and Nord have sought to encourage a loose, flexible arrangement for the Euroboden offices, with ‘city interiors’ comprising large principal rooms with a predominantly public purpose alongside clearly demarcated private spaces beyond. The central salon, for instance, acts as an informal meeting space and lounge during the day, and can be reconfigured for exhibitions or evening lectures that spill into the spaces beyond.

Additional Images

Download Drawings