ACTIVE MIDDLE

mixed use development; Berlin

This project begins with a simple observation. In the perpetually low city (think Paris) and the increasingly tall city (think New York), both historical and contemporary buildings exhibit a tripartite organization, consisting of a bottom, middle and top. The top is typically loaded with a density of people, allowing us to stare at the city as the city stares back. In contrast, the bottom is loaded with a density of objects. Without pressure for programmatic or population density, the middle is often usurped by top or bottom. This weak position reveals a lucrative ground for investigation.

Through programmatic and formal manipulations this project explores the latent possibilities of a re-engaged middle. Here, the top and bottom take supporting roles, maximizing density to produce a critical mass. The top reproduces a perimeter block, framing a second interior while simultaneously presenting four self-similar faces to the city. The bottom is organized as a series of smaller independent buildings, experienced as objects in the round and allowing visual and pedestrian access through the site. Both are clad in a generic curtain wall to backdrop their status in deference to the middle. The middle utilizes a colored glass to accentuate its visual presence from the exterior, while allowing the diversity of programs behind a degree of anonymity. The middle mixes the collective and public program, instigating a new datum within the city, allowing the collective life of the building and the surrounding neighborhood to occupy the line between the low and the tall city.

© Could be Architecture, 2015.