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Raimund Abraham House

Berlin, Germany
1 of 7

The mixed-use block at Friedrichstrasse 32-33 was designed by Raimund Abraham as part of the Internationale Bauausstellung, IBA Berlin 1987. It accommodates shops at the street level with apartments above.


With the Senate's bill of 1978 for the International Building Exhibition Berlin '84 the area of Southern Friedrichstadt is referred to as the "heart" of the building exhibition. In particular, the "architectural handling and restoration of the historic fabric of Kochstrasse /Friedrichstrasse intersection was the goal, making the site and the location an important plot of IBA Berlin 1987.

The aim of the competition was to make an attractive, urban residential and commercial area with new zoning and open space concepts, the heterogeneous and concept-free city with a small-sized and versatile concept of recording and restoring the historic structure to preserve the buildings.

The competition area included four blocks, for which four separate building competitions were defined and each 6 national and international architects were invited. Since the four blocks in an urban context were to all relate to each other and should therefore be handled with the same method.


Raimund Abraham's competition entry for 'block 10' did not emerge as the first prize, but consequently he received an architect's contract in 1983 for further processing of the preliminary draft for a residential and commercial building in the vacant lot Friedrichstrasse 32/33 (block 11). The design included an overall assessment plan (1:200), floor plans, elevations and sections (1:100), conceptual considerations for design and computational coarse materials to the GF, GFZ and BMZ and served as the basis for a developer competition.

Demonstrating the objectives of the urban restoration to Friedrichstrasse, it was declared to become a largely pedestrianised shopping street with the possibility of integrating work and home. The cost of construction and financing for the buildings were also sought.


The new construction of the residential and commercial building in the approximately 27 m wide vacant lot forms an urban link between the adjoining administrative building from the National Socialist period (1938-42 by Hans Fritzsche and Friedrich Lohbach). On one hand, the building restores the historical street-scape, and on the other hand the unique facade of this seven-storey building on the street side mediates between the various building lines and eaves heights of the neighboring houses, but also expresses its own architectural character.

The front facade has balconies oriented to the southern building line, while the rear facade plane takes views to the northern administrative building. The building is centered on a vertical incision, where the entrance is located. The window strip of this vertical incision is behind the main facade and is emphasized by the steel structure in front of it. Originally it was planned to be open here to enable a free passage to the circular inner courtyard. The cantilevered balconies on the 1st floor at the roadside, visually repeats the constant width of the vertical incision.

The design and significance of the balconies above it is described in the specification for the building permit documents as follows "These balconies are held by diagonal tension beams ... and thereby increase the tension between the divided halves of the facade."

The rear facade forms a semicircle, and thus creates a protected residential area. To accommodate the integration of living and working, flexible commercial spaces are situated on the ground and first floors, while the 4 levels above are designated for living. In total, approximately 586 square meters of shops, restaurants, clinics or offices and twenty three rooms into apartments (social housing), each with about 80 sqm. The seven-storey residential and commercial building with underground garage was built of solid construction (masonry and concrete) and externally insulated and plastered (mineral plaster). The site required pile foundations.

Although Friedrichstrasse was not transformed into a pedestrianized area after the fall of the Wall, it is by its southern terminus in Mehringplatz no through road and relatively quiet. However, what works against the achievement of the objective of urban space, is the lack of development on the corner diagonally opposite Puttkamer / Friedrichstrasse.

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  1. Eva Koch (German)
aleeshacallahan, July 29th, 2020
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