8 March 2011

OMA: Netherlands Embassy, Berlin

In 2003 Dutch practice OMA, headed by Rem Koolhaas, completed the new Netherlands Embassy in Berlin, Germany. The embassy building has been derived from the strict building regulations of Berlin that define a block of 27m in height for the site, reflecting the 19th century architectural forms that are prevalent in the local area. The end result though is a surprising structure that, in the words of OMA, combines "an obedient approach (strictly fulfilling the block's perimeter) with a disobedient one (building an isolated cube)".

Netherlands Embassy, November 2008 (Image: Luke Butcher)

A video of the Dutch Embassy by myself, completed during the Third Year of my BA (Hons) Architecture course at the Manchester School of Architecture, along with Carrie Bayley, Amina Bhaimohmed and Karen Harper, can be viewed on the 'msa field trip films' You Tube channel here.

Netherlands Embassy, November 2008 (Image: Luke Butcher)

The embassy takes the block form and divides it into two parts: a cube, with offices and the main accommodation, and a 'L-shaped' wall, with the embassy residences. These two structures define an internal protected courtyard, with a dramatic, projecting box (a 'sky office') cantilevered into the space, and a series of pedestrian bridges that link the two structures.

Netherlands Embassy, November 2008 (Image: Luke Butcher)

The internal arrangement of the space is defined by a 'trajectory' that unfolds through the cube, circulating movement from the entrance to a top floor restaurant. This route can be seen to be wrapping around the building, appearing and disappearing behind the regularity of the cube's glass and steel façade. At one point the route 'crashes' out of the cube, escaping it's  constraints, and cantilevers over the street below. The dynamic route regulates the eight floors of the main embassy building, creating an interesting spatial arrangement and giving animation to building, particularly at night.


Office for Metropolitan Architecture, 'Netherlands Embassy' [Online] [First Accessed 18th February 2011]