UP! Berlin

A new chapter for an iconic building of Berlin’s city history: in 2016, Martin Jasper and his team at Jasper Architects won the competition for the transformation of the aging eastern shopping mall "CENTRUM WARENHAUS" into a modern place for work and retail in Berlin’s Friedrichshain neighborhood.

The project, named “UP!”, is placed directly on the public Hermann-Stöhr-Platz and in walking distance to Berlin Ostbahnhof, East Berlin's former central station. In order to create bright spaces for the new functions, the formerly closed cube of 80x80 meters and 62.700 sqm GFA was first gutted and then flooded with natural lighting via dramatic, terraced cutouts on all four sides. The project reveals the building’s past and points to its future with a new volumetric appearance and a new, entirely glazed building envelope. Two floors and a roof terrace were added on top to regain the lost square meters. Old structural elements regained visibility, well-integrated into a modern office space designed for the digital era. The project was completed in spring 2021.

The era of this shopping mall, first as CENTRUM flagship store and later Galeria Kaufhof, had come to an end. The competition task was to present a concept for a new function for this massive squared building block. The presented idea was to turn it into a hub of office space for Berlin’s start-up community. The principle of an introverted building without openings had to be reversed. The idea was to cut out canyons on each side of the building in order to bring natural lighting into the building’s center and by this, loosen up its massive monolithic appearance. These "voids" redefine the building’s urban presence completely, the terraces add exterior space to each floor. The new rooftop is composed of a pavilion and a huge terrace. The new, transparent envelope exposes the building’s old structure to passers-by and from the inside, the urban surrounding can be experienced as a full panorama view from all levels. The rough, industrial charm of the patina of decades of history was kept in place and became a canvas for the new. What was once an interior-focused shopping center has been reimagined as an outwardly focused center for productivity, creativity, and community.

The entire building was gutted, the existing facade removed and the building block was reduced to its concrete skeleton. With huge circular saws, the voids were cut out of the old structure and the former elevator and staircase shafts were cleared. What remained, was a regular grid of concrete columns and four empty cores. Old technical infrastructure and rusty ceiling elements were uncovered and kept in place. A new core was inserted in the building's center for main vertical circulation.
The facade is composed of fully glazed and opaque modules with integrated casements, distributed in a ratio of three to one to provide the necessary amount of shade for energy regulation. In the voids, glass doors give access to the terraces.
Meeting boxes and translucent cast-glass walls were distributed strategically together with a flooring color concept. Some of the old elevator shafts were re-used as meeting rooms. The re-use of this existing structure paired with a highly efficient energy concept including an energy plant with an energy re-gaining concept of sewage waters makes UP! currently one of the most sustainable projects in Berlin.