Sebastian Treese on influences, inspirations and the roots of his design at Ludwigkirchplatz
The new apartment building is an exotic one, a maverick, as are the buildings around it. Here, no building looks like another; eaves heights vary, as does the architecture of each facade.
The ALEXANDER seeks company in the berlin brick tradition that we know primarily from industrial, commercial and public buildings. At first glance, it might be a private collector’s museum, an atelier house, or an institute of wellheeled scholars hosting cultivated salons. A meandering plinth of light-coloured natural stone connects the building to the street and precisely formulates the massing of the building, from which the “mountain” of higher storeys amass above the second floor. These upper floors are enwrapped in narrow, rustic varicoloured peatfired bricks with dark mortar.
Three entrances mark the address Emser Sraße 36, while deep streetside gardens shelter it. Black lacquered iron balconies and metalframed windows recall a classic Kontorhaus, or historical commercial building, and hint at the spaciousness of the apartments within. The building draws its strength from the verticals: everexpanding avantcorps, four-storey arches and the expressive penthouse floor set back from the frontage also make the building both architecturally and structurally adventurous. Together with RALF SCHMITZ, we have realised a highly modern building of the highest technical sophistication. The 42 apartments offer a retreat from urban cosmopolitan life.
And the idea behind the ALEXANDER’s garden is as extraordinary as the building itself. As early as the turn of the last century, planers drew on romantic, scenic images when imagining berlin’s expansion – many of the visionary submissions to the competition for Greater berlin 1908/10 attest to it – envisioning a healthier urban structure with higher standards of living. In the spirit of this idea of nature and the simultaneity of metropolis and green space, we draw upon the garden motif as well: a collage of both exotic and native plants in a highly cultivated landscape in the enclosed courtyard.out of this jardin exotique, the building finds its own identity. The apartment as refuge within an imaginative cosmos, defined as a counterpoint to urban reality – that is the motivating motif of the ALEXANDER’s design. That is also the mandate of the Königliche Gartenakademie, which we were able to enlist for the further development and realisation of the garden. The luscious botanical courtyard garden will be a place for all residents, a green backdrop, a scented and peaceful oasis, a private universe.
The public spaces in the ALEXANDER will also appear as if “enrobed” by the building’s namesake, Humboldt, an explorer, adventurer and collector. This “clothing” includes relicts of imagined travels. Entrance foyers and stairways are transformed into exotic, museumlike spaces – not unlike the renowned London home of architect Sir John Soane, which he reconfigured for his exquisite trove of models, drawings and paintings.
Interior designer Oliver Jungel assures that the promise of the building’s exterior appearance also delivers inside; here, too, the exotic and luxurious courtyard garden motif is at play. Opulent planters of stone, wooden ceiling fans, sumptuous wall treatments and, finally, the velvety dark colour concept come together to make the ALEXANDER much more than an exquisite residence in a prime location. Humboldt’s delicate works hang on the walls of the stairways; the vitrines hold curiosities from faraway lands, creating their own small worlds on each floor. Traversing the building may become a daily adventure. With their resplendent fittings, foyers and stairways are transformed into almost private interior spaces and excitingly and sensationally attest to an unusual luxury. The ALEXANDER – a modern cosmos en miniature.