The inspired evolution of an historical experiment in modern living.
Designed by Gisbert Pöppler, The Hansaviertel Project is a full renovation of a private apartment owned by a prominent writer for the popular German television show “Verliebt in Berlin”. The 90qm property is tucked in the corner of a large modern apartment building, designed by Walter Gropius for the 1957 Interntational Building Exhibition, “Interbau”. As if intentionally planned to coincide with this important milestone, the renovation was completed just in time to celebrate the 90th year anniversary of this now classic modernist BAUHAUS experiment in urban living.
The Hansaviertel Project showcases Gisbert Pöppler’s vision and talent, unique among German architects, for breathing vibrant life into stale spaces both structurally as well as by paying specific attention to the details of interior design. With a bold use of color and brave willingness to re-interpret the bones of an historical building, he has injected new-found energy and innovation into this fading model of ideal living.
Following Walter Gropius’ key intention of creating flexible living spaces for everyone, Gisbert Pöppler projected this noble trajectory into the 21st century. With a single swing he succeeded in unifying the main rooms of the apartment along a sunny bank of existing windows, ripping out the walls dividing the dark, boxy spaces. Giving full trust to Gisbert Pöppler’s vision – the client only inspected the apartment twice during the renovation process discovering that what were once three closed, claustrophobic compartments had become an expansive pass-through space, providing a colorful journey from the tart lemon livingroom to the chinese red kitchen and into the emerald green office.
In addition to these simple but transformative structural changes, Gisbert Pöppler’s client showed an openness to try new approaches to fixturing and decor, giving him the freedom to experiment . As every pearl has a grain of sand at its center, so do some of the key elements of this apartment’s interior fixturings; combining an eclectic collection of high and low-cost interior features. In the vibrantly detailed kitchen, for instance, the bones of the cabinets and freestanding counter block come from Ikea, but are then embellished with dedar Mindanao bianco textile surfaces and cabinet door handles costing far more than the structures they cover. In the livingroom, a custom designed china cabinet becomes a central decorative element, simultaneously providing a functional conversation piece and elegant object d’art.
When it came to developing a color system for the apartment, there were lots of conversations between the architect and client about color, leading to a pallette that plays off the muted tones used on the exterior of the Hansaviertel’s buildings. Saturated hues of aqua blue and sunny lemon are playfully combined to create the effect of sleeping at the bottom of a swimming pool. A bright contrast of black, white and Chinese red suggests kitchen-life inside a chili pepper and emerald walls enclose a cozy study, stuffed with a forest of books and leafy trees just outside the window. Throughout the apartment, glossy black trim acts like a unifying element that ties each room to the next and leads to the handsomely outfitted bathroom, lined in tiny gleaming black tiles.
In addition to being a vibrant showcase of modernism modernized for the 21st century, this apartment succeeds as a comfortably spacious home for its occupant – with new-found expansiveness and ample storage defying the modest 90qm footprint it leaves on this historic Berlin neighborhood.