Radical redesign is not an option for the Patzschke architects. The Berlin architects believe that there are good reasons for upholding architectural traditions. The office, which is led by the second generation of the founding family, intends to take existing building culture into the future. Behind facades with classical elements lies the spatial embodiment of a modern, contemporary lifestyle.
Robert Patzschke: After the reunification, the focus was on urban repair. This was an important step initially, but now the city has reached a different stage in its development process. It is now also becoming possible to build extravagant new buildings and skyscrapers. But I do not believe that a city like Berlin with its two or three high-rise buildings needs to compete for international recognition. Berlin is a European city, which requires cautious development efforts.
What are today’s requirements on architecture, do you see any changes?
Even today, the role of architecture is to create living spaces for people. After all, the needs of people did not change fundamentally. What has changed is the work of the architect. Design remains the most important factor, but added to this is a lot of management and communication. Even though computer programs and tools are indispensable today, I am a strong supporter of hand drawings. Variations and details can be examined more closely using a sketch. The computer takes away intuitive spontaneity.
The best known Patzschke project is probably “Hotel Adlon” at Brandenburg Gate. Where does your emphasis currently lie?
Many of our buildings blend into the cityscape almost as a matter of course. We completed 30 buildings in the Berlin-Mitte district alone, and another 30 in Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf. The emphasis is clearly on residential buildings, but there is also the occasional hotel or office building. The restoration of listed historical buildings has increased significantly in recent years. Currently, we are working on restoring the old telegraph office in Oranienburger Strasse. A redevelopment project is underway for the historical Riehmers Hofgarten in Kreuzberg. We also recently completed the conversion of the former hotel “Bogota” in Schlüterstrasse.
You are active around the globe. In which countries are you represented?
We have realised projects in Spain, Brazil, Egypt and Turkey. A special focus is given to India, where we founded a branch in Goa ten years ago. We are active in Frankfurt and Munich, but our home market is clearly Berlin.
The founders Jürgen and Rüdiger Patzschke stand for a classical-traditional architectural design. What is meant by this?
This refers to an architecture which draws on and perpetuates traditions – often with regional variations. It should be kept in mind that the language of architecture in Europe is closely connected with the forms of antiquity. However, we do not attempt a simple recourse, but an appropriate continuation. Experts as well as interested non-professionals recognise the differences despite the use of corresponding elements.
With Tatjana Patzschke, Till-Jonathan Patzschke, partners Michael Mohn, Christoph Schwebel and you at the helm, a younger generation is now managing the affairs of the office. Does this have an impact on the architectural approach?
Although we all have our own personal preferences, our common approach is to provide high quality architecture that meets the demands of the respective location. There is no fixed status quo, an architect’s development continues throughout his life. I was strongly influenced by my creative family. The support of the family has strengthened my path and my work.
The Kaiserdamm 116 project in Charlottenburg is currently underway. What are the distinctive features of this building ensemble’s design?
From an urban planning perspective the goal was to close a gap and thus remove war damage. Architecturally speaking, the building blends in discreetly without being a copy. Furthermore, corner buildings have always enjoyed a special status in the cityscape.
You are also using a classical design language in Mommsenstrasse 15. What is the reason for this?
Our design is inspired intuitively by the environment, we have included and integrated certain elements from the environment. Our architecture aims to rise above the compulsive need for novelty. Houses should not fashionable – after all, we cannot dispose of them after one season.
The exterior of these projects is based on tradition, value and elegance. What are the inner values?
We design the buildings from the inside out in accordance with the desired function. In contrast to monotonous grid-like facades, which do not allow conclusions about the spatial structure, our facades convey an idea of the spatial structure from the outside. This is, of course, only possible if the interior and exterior are carefully harmonised.
Jörg Zimmermann conducted the interview.
As a matter of course, the designs of the Patzschke architects blend inconspicuously into the Berlin cityscape. In Mommsenstrasse 15, the seven-storey corner building with 36 apartments closes a gap left after the war where there was once a filling station owned by the Berlin cycling legend Otto Ziege 4 The new corner building at Kaiserdamm 116/Witzlebenstrasse 1 is sized at 1,700 square metres and contains 82 apartments. The new building will be divided into three sections that vary slightly in colour and design in order to blend in harmoniously into the urban context. In both projects, the entranceways have been designed as representational elements. More information can be found at www.patzschke-architektur.de.