PAUL LÖBE BUILDING, Berlin

 

Architects:   Stephan Braunfels Architekten, Berlin/Munich
Client:   Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Bundesbaugesellschaft Berlin Ltd.
Occupant:   Federal Parliament of Germany
Completion:   2001
Project size:   32,000 m²
Overall building budget:   276 million euros
Lighting budget:   4.4 million euros
Photos:   Ulrich Schwarz  2-3, 5, 6l
Luc Bernard  6r, 7
Werner Huthmacher  1, 8
Stefan Müller  4

Publication:
 
Werkbericht - Licht Kunst Licht 2  >>

 

Democracy as client – Paul Löbe Building in Berlin


Behind the curtain walls on the eastern and western ends of the building a dramatic spatial configuration greets the eye. Two long flights of stairs, strikingly inserted between the glass skin and concrete wall of the building, cascade rise though several levels towards the sky, finally ending in a gallery giving onto the hall below the roof on the upper level. At night especially, the stairs are clearly outlined against the concrete walls that are immersed in bright light. In order to illuminate these walls as homogeneously as possible, the inside frames of the glazed façades have been fitted with slender lighting profiles. Since they have the same width and surface as the façade profiles, they are inconspicuous on the inside and cannot be seen from outside – the light source remains invisible, thus causing the concrete walls to appear mysteriously self-luminous.

On both sides of the hall the sections form comblike structures which house the MPs' offices and create courtyards enclosed on three sides on the longitudinal flanks of the building. Eight cylinders structures the full height of the building penetrate the comb structure in such a way that half of them protrude into the hall and the other half into the courtyards. Their distinctive round shape indicates their use: this is where the committee rooms are located. The round shape of the eight cylinders is accentuated by dedicated lighting. Recesses between the bottom edge of the gallery ceilings and the cylinder walls house curving light coves which bathe the walls in a soft light from above and visually detach the galleries from the cylinders through rings of light.

The circle is the dominant element of the rooms where the committees hold their meetings. The gallery follows the curved walls and the desks are arranged in a circle. The lighting elements take up this circular theme and emphasize it dramatically. A ring of 22 metres in diameter is suspended below the ceiling. The upper side of the ring holds indirect luminaires that illuminate the ceiling. As a result, the ring appears to be detached from the ceiling and floating in the air. It also provides well-directed illumination for the conference tables.

Since the Paul Löbe Building is surrounded by public, freely accessible areas, a tunnel below street level provides a connection with the Reichstag. Here, the MPs can walk from one building to the other without getting wet. Light is used in the corridor to counteract the visual heaviness of the space and to give it a friendlier feeling. Its two main vertical boundaries, the longitudinal walls, have been treated differently: on the western side in-grade recessed uplights with wall washer properties illuminate the walls. The eastern side on the other hand was fitted with a full height glazed layer screening reflector light strips that illuminate the white wall behind the glass from above. Thus, the spider-fitted glazing appears to be luminous.