Perfect roof harmony in “Alter Westen” district

People visiting Berlin can come across new districts and environments which have not yet been explored. Careful renovation aimed at breathing new life into the old without harming historical features is quite a challenge.

AHM Architekten architectural studio located in Berlin is in the spotlight thanks to designs that preserve the original state of buildings. This is especially noticeable for ”Neue West” building where architects have achieved excellent fusion of tradition and modernity. They managed to make an exceptional renovation in ambitious district known as “Alter Westen” (“Old West”) situated to the south of the Potsdamer Platz. Architects did it in the environment full of respect with its urban and construction aspects as well as with strict heritage preservation requirements in mind.

“Neue West” located at Potsdamer Straße consists of different buildings erected since 1861 and surrounding the courtyard. Architects came up with diverse expansion possibilities for all the buildings (front building, atelier, villa and factory).

Atelier and side building with their appealing arrangement attract a particular attention. Small rooms have been transformed into one large room under the roof with its intended use as an office. A lot of space, homogeneous white walls and ceilings in harmony with the rhythmic openings of roof windows, light wooden floor and intentionally exposed dark-coloured roof give unique character to the interior. Modernity and tradition create a symbiosis, while old wooden support structure resembles a sculpture.

Such effects are largely due to applied illumination. Planners in direct cooperation with FAKRO developed window and connection solutions adapted specifically to this building.

Action of Light

Planners have found large FYU-V U3 roof windows attractive as with their length of 206cm they are one of the longest roof windows in the world, while their relatively small width provides good illumination. For this project, FAKRO did not provide natural roof windows, but with white varnish coating consisting of three layers of polyurethane lacquer, making them resistant to moisture and easy to clean. Owing to this, periodic window lacquering is eliminated, which is recommended to be performed at intervals of three to five years in case of standard wooden windows.

Hardware technology of these large windows was individually matched to this building. In order to make windows designed as standard for pitches from 20 – 65° suitable for roofs with the pitch of 69° it was required to adjust the hardware elements. Axis of rotation was situated above the centre of the window as standard, which when retaining appropriate installation height enables an easily walk up to the window edge.

The loft space designed to be used as an office opens up to south-facing direction thanks to its twelve roof windows and illuminates long room facing east and west along its entire width up to northern window-free wall. A small roof window was fitted in flat sloping roof over each large roof window which actually created a mansard solution.

Roof pitch according to planners' wishes

The challenge was the roof with a pitch of only 10°, which is therefore lower than the minimum pitch of 15°. Engineers working in FAKRO R&D Centre developed a proposal to overcome this difference by using a factory-made flashing for changing window installation angle. Specially designed flashing ultimately implemented by the investor creates greater inclination angle of small windows than it is set by the roof pitch. To ensure better illumination of northern window-free wall, another single small roof windows also equipped with the solution for changing installation angle in order to achieve the minimum roof inclination were installed on the line of every second window combination. These windows run along the entire northern wall and on the line connecting entrance doors on the west and east to form a bright and architecturally interesting arrangement.

Another special solution aimed at appropriate window integration with the overall roofing concept in the outer area was developed. With precisely specified roofing material, namely titanium-zinc prePATINA by Rheinzink pre-exposed to atmospheric conditions, FAKRO produced sheet metal flashings for roof windows, thus satisfying material concept and optical impression.

Photos and their captions

”Neue West” features excellent fusion of tradition and modernity. A building situated to the south of the Potsdamer Platz and characterized by the environment full of respect with its urban and construction aspects as well as with strict heritage preservation requirements in mind perfectly blends into the landscape. In addition, this district of Berlin catches the eye with its growing art scene.

The roof with a pitch of barely 10°, which is therefore lower than the minimum pitch of 15° turned out to be a real challenge. Engineers working in FAKRO R&D Centre developed a proposal to overcome this difference by using a factory-made flashing for changing window installation angle. Specially designed flashing ultimately implemented by the investor creates greater inclination angle of small windows than it is set by the roof pitch.

 

Photos: architekturbildbureau-robert-herrmann