Along Kochstrasse… part 1


I know, I know…  I haven’t blogged for ages.  Excuses?  Loads, including the fact that I’ve been writing some actual paid-for writing, which I’ll mention again (when October’s edition of Blueprint magazine come out).   And I’ve been in London, where I’m always instantly thrown by all the traffic and people, and remain in shock for about a week on my return to lovely calm, quiet Berlin.

Anyway, what better way to return to blogging with some ever-untopical IBA buildings.  Some of which I’ve written about before, but I was just passing these on the way along Kochstrasse*, coming back from the Modell Bauhaus exhibition at the Gropius Bau (previously recommended).  So a bit of a ramble.

*at least one end of which has recently been renamed, confusingly, but I can’t remember what to.

A few months back I found myself sitting next to David Mackay, of MBM architects (a friend was designing his autobiography).  He was saying that the design of one of his  Kochstrasse buildings – this one in fact:

…was turned 90 degrees at a late stage, so that if need be, allied tanks could bypass Checkpoint Charlie and head up an alleyway between his building and Rem’s next door.  Not sure how this would have worked; it seems terribly narrow. And tanks are quite wide.

While I was musing on this, I took some photies of the back of the Koolhaas/OMA building.  I like the backs of buildings.  Especially the place they keep the bins – it sometimes tells you more about the architecture than looking at the front/insides does.  It’s an early one for Mr Koolhaas, but has some tell-tale details:

Note the sloping transome bar, obscured by some cabinets:

Will do the rest of this in parts, so that I can seperately tag them, as I’m anally retentive like that.  Back shortly.


  1. Please do come back to the Kohlhaas building and our rear courtyards in June 2010! You might get a glimpse on the newly installed bins of McDonald’s since the big beef burger seller is now refurbishing the whole commercial space on the ground floor of Checkpoint Charlie House and will be opening a new branch there. Yes we can!
    I thought of writing some petition to Mr. Kohlhaas begging him to intervene, imagining that he couldn’t possibly be comfortable with a McDonald’s logo right on his design. Then I decided that this was just my projection. What a shame though.

    Susanne, March 26, 2010
  2. Thanks Susanne – sounds like an architectural moment not to be missed!

    Mind you, we could claim it as a defacement of the building – since ‘lighting the blue touchpaper’ on the Hejduk/Kreuzberg Tower campaign (has Rem signed the petition yet? I will check) – I’m in the mood for some action…


    admin, March 26, 2010
  3. nice blog you have here! just a note: koolhaas, according to him, did not at all work on this building. It was entierly done by his partner Elia Zengehlis. “Actually, I was so offended by the whole notion of rebuilding the Friedrichstadtblocks that I didn’t work on the IBA building. (…) It was unbearable for me to move from one kind of architectural proposal to the totally opposite proposal, so I couldn’t do it.” -Hans Ulrich Obrist – The conversation series. Rem Koolhaas

    keep up the good work!

    Luis, April 19, 2010
  4. [...] the best title I could come up with, even though someone pointed out in a comment on an earlier post that the building was designed not by Mr Koolhaas, but by his [...]

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