The YARD is a mixed use development with 51 apartments, a boutique hotel with 55 rooms, 4 commercial units, an underground spa area and a common garage. The project opposes the conventional closed-city block, retro-designed residential business model of today’s Berlin. It interacts on an urban and spatial level with its heterogeneous context, using a contemporary design approach to embrace its location in a hidden corner of Berlin-Kreuzberg.
The massing breaks up the block and consist of two parts, opening up the garden – designed by renowned landscape architect Enzo Enea – to the public city spaces. With an articulation of the massing it responds to the different areas it is oriented towards: The smaller part, the hotel building, rotates inwards to the garden, emphasizing the intervention as an opening; the residential building, through multiple shifts and setbacks in plan and elevation, creates wider pedestrian spaces on the street level in front of the commercial spaces; on the street façade it mediates between the scale of the old neighboring buildings and the huge residential blocks across the street. And with a façade and material concept that further defines connections and relations through the use of exposed concrete towards public spaces and towards the outside.
On the garden side of the residential building, a vertical concrete structure covering the entire façade provides large terraces for every single apartment. Different depths and an offset from floor to floor form garden towers that provide ample private outdoor space and integrate a large planter for individual gardening needs. The narrower parts of the structure allow the winter sun to penetrate deeply into the building and optimize heat gain in the cold months. Outdoor curtains complete the sun protection and, together with the huge thermal mass, eliminate the need for air conditioning and thus help to reduce the carbon footprint of the project.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the project: The strong differentiation and variation of the massing creates unique apartments. Even though they all follow a clear, comfortable and efficient internal layout, not two apartments are the same. Every inhabitant discovers the particularities of his or her space and identifies with it. This identification is shared with the people that are already there – and the integration succeeds.