In the heart of Berlin, at the crossroads between the Schönhauser Allee avenue and Torstraße, stands the Schönhauser Tor: a modern executive and commercial complex. The original structure dates back to the 18th Century and it is situated along the Zoll- und Aksisemauer, the wall which used to divide the city of Berlin in two, built with a series of simple pillars and home to the customs office. The complex was used as an entrance gate to the royal granary, with a farm annexed to it. The Gate was demolished during the 19th Century. The styling of the new building, dated 1995, appealed first and foremost due to its combination of materials, structures and colours.
To renovate the entrance of the building, the architect Resa Gartner, of Studio neo systems architects in Berlin, nonetheless preferred a different project: the atrium of the building is reached by crossing a bright entrance which is a net contrast with the current glass and natural stone façade. “To achieve a Corporate Design of the different works – i.e. parts of the decorated and backlit façade as well as the interior décor – we chose the HI-MACS® acrylic stone by LG Hausys. Such a broad range of applications and the creation of seamless structural elements with double-curved surfaces would not have been possible with any other material” states Gartner.
LG Hausys Europe, in close collaboration with the team from the company 5D Engineering, provided their technical support with the aim of reproducing as faithfully as possible the ideas at the core of the project. This necessitated a lengthy construction process, which in addition to the creative aspect also had to satisfy the technical-construction approval requisites: the German Building Inspectorate certified, in this case with a conformity declaration, the use of the structural elements of the façade. The façade overlooking the street is made with translucent HI-MACS® slabs in Opal colour and backlit with LEDs, which reproduce a video screen. The electronic control of each individual LED is used to display moving figures, characters and symbols like a raster image. The installation is simple yet elegant, without being exhibitionist. The external surface of the portal's arch has a further coating to protect it from any graffiti. "Touch sensitivity is a distinguishing trait of this material and it is absolutely unusual for a plastic material. This is also demonstrated by the reaction of a few passers-by who get the urge to just skim the elements”, comments the architect, Gartner. The portal's arch was built by the German company, Rosskopf & Partner AG.
The brightness of the installation continues inside the building: even the foyer, which acts as a connecting element between the entrance and the atrium of the building, is made of HI-MACS®. The elements are in Alpine White colour. The ornamental decoration recalls the textile wall coverings or padded and quilted surfaces. The width and depth limited of the joints between each individual slab produces the effect of a mesh, yet the entire surface still appears to be uniform and homogeneous. The counters, letterboxes and benches in the covered hall of the Schönhauser Tor were all made of acrylic stone as well. In this case, too, the architect was able to rely on the experience of Rosskopf & Partner AG for the processing of the Solid Surface. Thanks to the use of HI-MACS® both outside and inside the building, the entire project for the entrance takes on a uniform and bold character.
Building: Schönhauser Tor, Torstraße 49, Berlin - Germany
Architects' studio: neo systems architects, Berlin
Technical design: 5D Engineering GmbH, Dresden / Technical Support LG Hausys Europe/HI-MACS®
Material used: external façade in HI-MACS® Opal, interior HI-MACS® Alpine White
Builders: Rosskopf & Partner AG, Germany
Photographers : Volker Mai ans Andreas Mikutta