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IBA Block 4

Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany
1 of 10
The centre building on Wilhelmstrasse 41-42, listed as 'the Torhaus (Gate house).

'Block 4' is a building block at the Kochstrasse (27-29), Wilhelmstrasse (40-42), (Zimmerstrasse 6-10) in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. The block was developed as part of the International Bauaustellung, IBA Berlin 1987.

Demonstration Goals

In this Southern Friedrichstadt block, IBA Berlin 1987 aimed to achieve restoration of the perimeter block. The noise level from the busy street had to be considered and measures were demanded to ensure an ecological approach for this mixed use block.

Restoration of the block edge structure

Restoration of the block edge structure was achieved by a variety of architecturally coherent and heterogeneous new buildings along Kochstrasse. At the time of planning and construction the Berlin wall ran along the entire north side of the block, which faces onto Zimmerstrasse. The street itself was out of bounds in the 'death strip', so the block plan was set back from the wall line on Zimmerstrasse allowing for a narrow garden. The ecological aspect was maintained through environmentally friendly building materials, green roofs, water-saving installations and separate collection of waste.

The special character of this block is the variety of facades on the street side of the block, which give no hint to what the interior of the block or the inner courtyard look like. The courtyards inside are fairly large and park like and the details of the specific buildings are below.

Buildings and architects

View from Kochstrasse, 34084|shows the building by Spanish architects Josep Martorell, Oriol Bohigas, David Mackay of MBM Arquitectos - nos 68-73. It gives no clues as to the rear elevations and space behind. The facade actually incorporates three blocks in between, by Faller, Muschalek and Schroder, nos 9, 11 and 13.

On the same block and by the same architects, mainly hidden behind Rem Koolhaas's Checkpoint Charlie Apartments block on Friedrichstrasse, is Kochstrasse 65/Zimmerstrasse 19 (it runs through to the north side of the block). It's odd balcony, the glass tiled opaque staircase area along with a long cylindrical shaft are eye catching.

The block faces the Topography of Terror site on Wilhelmstrasse. At the corner site, Kochstrasse 75/Wilhelmstrasse 40, across from Aldo Rossi's contribution to IBA Rossi House - Block 10, stands the building by Jean Jean Flammang, Burkhard Grasshorn, Aldo Licker. The building features small vents protruding from the building's facade which are a part of the original design. Their intriguing modernist factory appearance calls for a closer look.

The centre building on Wilhelmstrasse 41-42, forms a gateway into the central space. It is 'listed as 'the Torhaus (Gate house) and is by architects Pfeiffer and Ellermann. The building to its left on Wilhelmstrasse 42A/ Zimmerstrasse 20 is by Joachim & Margot Schurmann.

Zimmerstrasse 2-9, is by Fin Bartels and Christoph Schmidt-Ott, and it showcases a rounded glass staircases block jutting out of the building facade. With sky bridges and floating spiral staircases connecting the upper floors, it is the inner courtyard of this block which is particularly striking. The facades on the inside are very much in contrast with their external street side facade. The spacious landscaped courtyard is more like a large park within this innercity block development.

Some remnants of the site's past still stand on its grounds.

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sonjadragovic, July 7th, 2020
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