New Perspectives: Sustainable Refurbishment and Extension of the Gipsformerei

Gipsformerei - Kunstmanufaktur seit 1819

The first prize in the competition to plan a comprehensive refurbishment and extension of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Gipsformerei, with a special focus on sustainability and functionality, has been awarded to the architectural firm Gerkan, Marg und Partner (gmp). The architectural designs entered into the competition will be on public display at the Kulturforum from 31 January 2023.

The competition to plan a comprehensive refurbishment and extension of the Gipsformerei, part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – organised by the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR) on behalf of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (SPK) – has been concluded. At its meeting held on 30 November 2022, the judging panel, chaired by Professor Frank Kasprusch, awarded first prize to the bid submitted by the architectural firm of Gerkan, Marg und Partner (gmp).

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s Gipsformerei has been situated in a custom-built facility at Sophie-Charlotten-Strasse 17/18 in Charlottenburg since the late 19th century. The building houses a range of objects and facilities, including the moulding workshop, painting studios, and storage facilities for the collection of historical moulds and casts. Given the spatial limitiations of the pre-war building and its current state of repair, the decision was made to undertake a comprehensive refurbishment of the existing structure, while also expanding its gross floor space – which currently comprises roughly 5,000 square metres – to a total of approximately 13,000 square metres, by erecting a new building on the property.

The expansion is also intended to take account of the Gipsformerei’s recent evolution and its future potential: in recent years, it has come to specialise in producing high-quality, large-scale, and intricate reproductions, for which a new assembly facility is now required. The new building will also provide the Gipsformerei with its first ever conservation and restoration workshops, which will enable the implementation of best practices in conservation and restoration when handling the unique historical items in the collection.

Over the next few years, the existing premises of the Gipsformerei will be extensively refurbished and expanded to include the new building. The pioneering new manufacturing and storage building is also expected to increase the public visibility and awareness of the Gipsformerei.

Competition to Plan a Comprehensive Refurbishment and Extension of the Gipsformerei

The winning design proposes a five-storey-high extension whose L-shaped structure will contribute new accents to the clean, simple structure of the existing building with its distinctive clinker brick façade. All of the workshops, studios, and special storage facilities in the new building will be built in accordance with current regulations regarding air conditioning, ventilation, fire prevention measures, and workplace safety. 

The facility’s energy consumption will be cut and its CO2 emissions and resource deployment reduced thanks to a low-tech design and the optimisation of the building’s shell. The winning design also calls for the use of primarily recyclable materials and eschews the use of irreversible connection methods in order to enable the structure to be partially or entirely dismantled.

The public, two-stage design competition received a total of 50 submissions, from which 16 entries were selected during the first round of judging to proceed to the second stage of the competition. The judging panel consisted of freelance architects together with representatives from the administrative bodies and cultural institutions involved in the project. The assessment criteria for this extraordinary construction project centred around questions of environmental sustainability. The criteria also favoured the incorporation of low-tech architectural principles, which favour durable, low-maintenance structural solutions rather than complex technological systems, thereby making a significant contribution to the broader project of sustainability. The judges also paid particular attention to functionality when evaluating the designs.

Pursuant to the recommendation of the judging panel, the next step is for the BBR to enter into contract negotiations with the prize winners on behalf of the SPK to discuss commissioning the subsequent planning and construction activities.

Presenting the Designs to the Public

The architects’ designs will be displayed publicly from 12 January 2023 at Ernst-Reuter-Haus, the BBR’s Berlin office. From 31 January to 19 February 2023, the results of the competition to design the extension of the Gipsformerei will be presented in the Kulturforum’s central entrance hall and its special exhibition space.