Image via buro247.com
World renowned architect Frank Gehry is best known for his work on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but on a more local scale, he is responsible for the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Mirvish+Gehry proposal. Next on Gehry’s project list is the tallest residential tower in Berlin, Germany.
With about 225,000 homes built in 2013, the most built since 2004, Germany is experiencing a major construction boom. Attributed to the increasing cost of rent and cheap funding for housing construction, statisticians at the German Federal Statistics Office predict that these figures signal continued growth in the housing industry for the future.
As an expert in the revitalization of areas needing cultural stimulation, Gehry’s designs were approved in hopes of achieving “The Bilbao Effect.” The opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao in 1997 has proven over the years that well-planned, imaginative cultural developments can stimulate city life. More than one million people visited the museum in 2012, more than half coming from other parts of the world. Because of this, Bilbao has become an exemplary icon for what careful planning and imaginative design can spur.
Supporters feel that Gehry’s recent design will be Berlin’s Guggenheim. “Berlin is becoming more of an international metropolis and this project is a sign of that,” said Berlin’s Senate building director, Regula Luescher. Almost 500 feet tall, this 39-storey building will create 300 apartments, restaurants, a hotel and a spa in the Alexanderplatz square. “This building will be a landmark,” added Luescher.
Financially backed by Houston-based real estate firm Hines, the project will cost approximately $340 million and will be ready to start construction by 2015. Hoping that this building will rejuvenate the area, attracting new residents as well as investors, Christoph Reschke, Hines’ Germany managing director said, “Berlin is certainly a hotspot for developers right now.” With no signs of slowing down, the housing industry in Germany could entice savvy worldwide investors. “There’s a well-functioning German economy and a catch-up effect in housing, so it’s not just German investors but also international investors who are coming to do projects,” Reschke explained.
Gehry’s plans present a tower that turns on its axis at the 12th floor, with four connecting towers, designed to resemble a cloverleaf. Cladded with cream-coloured stone, the building will overshadow the 459-foot tall Colonia Tower in Cologne, which is Germany’s tallest residential skyscraper at the moment.