The gallery and ateliers at Brunnenstrasse 9 designed by by Brandlhuber & Emde & Burlon in Berlin are a prime example of adaptive reuse in architecture.
Built on the foundations of a ruin, the project took advantage of an opportunity to buy the land for a discounted price and make use of the remaining structure. Rather than removing the original building, the architects, Brandlhuber & Emde & Burlon, included it in the design and developed it further to create a unique and functional space.
The design of the building was heavily influenced by the City Planning Department's agenda of "critical reconstruction," which references the city's historical context. The basic volume of the building is defined by the eave heights of the two adjacent buildings, with the attic floor shaped accordingly to compromise with the neighbors behind the rear courtyard. The continuation of the adjacent building heights into Brunnenstrasse 9 results in a 30cm difference between the two floor levels, which naturally divides the floor plate on every storey for different uses.
The concrete core, reduced to a minimum, houses the bathrooms and the elevator. It directly connects the different units to the street level via an entrance located in the public passageway. Apart from this central core, there is no other physical connection between the single units. The only way to circulate between them is either through elevator access or the external staircase attached to the rear facade. This exterior circulation layer is offset five meters from the back facade in accordance with the building code and fire regulations, eliminating the need for an interior stair and maximizing spatial efficiency.
The facade of the building is also a nod to the context and regulations of the site. The street side, facing the heavily trafficked Brunnenstrasse, is given a closed quality, while the rear wall facing onto the courtyard is completely glazed. All the facade elements rest on a robust metal sub-structure, providing for future changes to the facade and following the same logic of flexibility and adaptability employed on the inside. The Brunnenstrasse 9 project is a successful example of how architects can use the constraints and opportunities of a site to create a unique and functional space.