ALAS Alarcon Linde Architects


- Berlin - Germany


This 125sqm duplex apartment is located on the top two floors of a new building close to the Spree River in Berlin. In spite of its central location, the area is characterized by a great heterogeneity in its urban fabric, with voids, interruptions and abrupt changes of scale that still give evidence of the city’s turbulent history.

The clients, a young couple who had bought the apartment during the construction of the building, hired us to provide an alternative concept for the layout and interior design, different from the default solutions provided by the building developer.

During the first meeting with the client at the construction site while the building was in its raw shell and core, we decided to maintain the openness and spatial generosity that the building presented at that stage while providing enough flexibility, comfort and intimacy for the couple’s current and future living scenarios.  The idea was therefore not to divide the apartment into a series of enclosed rooms but rather to work with the space as a continuous and changing experience among a heterogeneous set of objects. This approach also incorporated the spirit of the urban environment, where space was both a remnant and a connector between abruptly contrasting elements.

The first strategy was to activate the structural elements of the apartment, incorporating in-built furniture pieces into them, which would combine and connect multiple functions. The central elevator shaft, which perforated the apartment at its center was covered by a continuous wardrobe, absorbing the function of the classical pantry and working as a room divider; the stair which connected both floors of the duplex accommodated the entrance wardrobe below the steps at the lower level and became a long bar and kitchen on the top floor.

The second strategy was to equip these elements with specific color and material qualities that could define the areas between and around them. The staircase, the balustrade and parts of the kitchen were treated in solid oak, harmonizing with the floor and conforming a spatial sequence between the two floors. The walls were painted in different colors in order to divide the spatial flowing continuum into distinct zones and atmospheres, accommodating the different functions.

Finally, the lighting concept helped to emphasize the different elements and atmospheres of each space by using different kinds of light, from wall-washing elements for the larger colored walls to a linear set of pendant lights for the long kitchen bar.


Photos: Ronald Patrick

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