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MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

Germany Architecture News - Nov 11, 2021 - 10:47   712 views

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

MVRDV has transformed the iconic post production film studios, known as Berliner Union Film Ateliers (BUFA), into a dense, ecologically focused campus with a "low tech transformation” in Berlin, Germany.

MVRDV has already received planning approval for the first two buildings of the project, called Atelier Gardens. Situated on the southern edge of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport, BUFA has been a key part of Berlin’s film and television industry since its first buildings were constructed over a century ago. 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

Now, BUFA is expanding its user base beyond filmmakers to encompass all forms of ‘change makers’, including organisations and individuals with a focus on activism and social justice – catalysed by a change of identity in its physical spaces.

The dense campus is comprised of five filming studios and assortment of ancillary facilities with large, charismatic brick buildings define narrow alleys and open plazas. 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

In the masterplan, MVRDV’s design will preserve and enhance this spatial diversity by incorporating a series of sustainable transformations, which take advantage of the existing structures rather than demolishing and rebuilding. The new plans will refresh the buildings while maximising the potential of the spaces between.

As MVRDV states, "the campus will be transformed with an ecologically focused landscape: large areas of paving are removed, eliminating vehicles and adding water permeability and biodiversity with rooftop gardens and green plazas." 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

Other sustainability measures, such as eco-toilets, rainwater collection and water recycling, and improved natural ventilation, will also be incorporated into the complex. 

Another proposal currently under consideration would see steel salvaged from the demolition of two outdated warehouses reused directly on site to create a new entrance pavilion.

The campus covers a total of 23,800-square-metre area and takes an incremental approach to refresh the film studios, considering each building transformation as a response to the previous ones. 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

The first of these developments, which have recently received construction approval, are the transformation of the building next to the main entrance known as House 1, and the renovation of Studio 1.

At almost 100 years old, Studio 1 is somewhat outdated for modern film production, being used most in recent years for television productions and commercials. 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

It is also a listed building, which necessitated a design that creates a flexible space for a variety of uses without permanently altering the existing features of the building in any significant way. The design needed to lengthen the lifespan of the building to ensure a sustainable future for the campus while also respecting its history.

To achieve this, MVRDV will devise a “low tech transformation” with one stand-out feature: an intricate overhead curtain rail that – unlike in most film studios where curtain rails are hidden – becomes a focal point of the space. 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

The rail supports a variety of curtains in a range of bright colours, from raspberry to honey yellow, that can be used to divide the space, each with different functions (such as acoustic curtains and translucent curtains). In this way, the new additions will create a contrast to the original building: flexible instead of fixed, and colourful instead of black. 

For instance, the studio will keep brick walls visible, while above the curtain rail, a skylight is added in the roof of the building to make the space more suitable for different uses. Other features of the building will be updated, with new interior surfaces and a new more efficient ventilation system.

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

The transformation of House 1, which was originally built in 1997, is more radical. The building has a poor indoor climate, with overheating in summer and poorly insulated walls. 

It is made more efficient by a green “wrap”, created with a wooden frame and climbing plants, delivering maximum impact with minimal material. 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

This frame extends above the roofline to form a sheltered garden and rooftop pavilion, accessible from both the building itself and a zig-zagging staircase that leads directly to the rooftop. Inside, the building will host flexible workspaces, a café-bar, and meeting spaces, with a similar goal of achieving maximum performance improvement with minimal new material.

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

"With its new focus on social causes, Atelier Gardens helps to define a different vision of society, and invite more people to join in that vision," said MVRDV founding partner Jacob van Rijs. 

"By transforming this important piece of Berlin’s film history, we extend its lifespan to connect an exciting past with an optimistic future."

"Our vision for Atelier Gardens is to build on BUFA’s history as a place of energy and passion and work with creative, forward thinking people to build a home for exchange, action and global impact," said Fabrix CEO Clive Nichol. 

"The original studios serve as a reminder of the creative impulse that Berlin gave the world in the 1920s and are starting point and inspiration for the journey we are now embarking on. As with all of our projects we are repurposing the existing buildings and adapting their use to meet the evolving needs of our urban environments," Nichol added. 

MVRDV said that "as the next step in the story of the BUFA campus, Atelier Gardens will pioneer the future of farming, food, finance, film, leadership, education, and other sectors that benefit from direct democratic participation." 

MVRDV transforms Berlin film studios campus with a “low tech transformation” in Germany

As such, the transformation of the campus into Atelier Gardens is considered as a collection of pilot projects – an ongoing process in which the participation and feedback of the users would help to clarify the direction of the campus as a whole. 

MVRDV is designing the Atelier Gardens masterplan and the buildings within it for London-based property investor and developer Fabrix

The architectural designs were developed in collaboration with local co-architect HS-Architekten, while London-based designers Harris Bugg Studio developed the masterplan’s landscape design.

Project facts

Project name: Atelier Gardens

Location: Berlin, Germany

Year: 2021

Client: Fabrix

Size and Programme: 23,800m2 – Studios, Auditoriums, Office

Architect: MVRDV
Founding Partner in charge: Jacob van Rijs
Partner: Fokke Moerel
Director: Enno Zuidema
Design Team: Klaas Hofman, Jonathan Schuster, Monica di Salvo, Pim Bangert, Brygida Zawadzka, Daniella Persson, Chiara Tomassi, Andre Bahremand, Emilie Koch, Alexandra Farmazon, Stijn Lanters, Mathias Pudelko, Alexandru Mitea.

Visualisations: Antonio Luca Coco, Pavlos Ventouris, Angelo La Delfa, Luca Piattelli, Francesco Vitale, Jaroslaw Jeda, Luana La Martina, Lorenzo D’Alessandro, Gianlorenzo Petrini

Partners:

Landscape Design: Harris Bugg Studio 

Co-architect: HS-Architekten

All renderings © MVRDV.

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