OMA has completed the first phase of its overhaul of Berlin department store KaDeWe, which sees wood-clad escalators criss-cross through concentric circular voids to connect shop floors.

Buildings.

OMA’s redesign of Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) aims to address the shift in shopping behaviour and the acceleration towards online shopping and bring the department store – which originally opened in 1907 and is largest in mainland Europe – in line with contemporary needs.

The practice embarked on the overhaul of the department store in 2016 with a programme that fragments the buildings into quadrants, each targeted at a different customer base defined as classic, experimental, young and generic.

Each of these “four department stores under one single roof” has its own street entrance and internal navigation centred on a unique staircase with the aim of the breaking the shopping experience into smaller and easier to manage sections.

In the first of the newly designed quadrants to open to the public, the six shopping levels are connected by a series of escalators with wooden siding that rise through increasing circular voids towards the roof.

Here, KaDeWe’s “food laboratories” will be located beneath the building’s original vaulted roof, which is punctured by huge windows offering expansive views of Berlin.

“The renovation of the KaDeWe aims to redefine the dynamics between retail space, its patrons, and the urban environment, in a time when e-commerce is reshaping our relation with in-person shopping,” says OMA partner Ellen van Loon, who is leading the project alongside Rem Koolhaas, with project architect Natalie Konopelski.

“The project reinterprets the fundamental elements of a typology that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years.”

Van Look is also working on the design of a new store by the KaDeWe Group in Vienna.

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