Danish architecture firm 3XN has recently completed a mirrored-glass cuboid building in Washingtonplatz, one of the most prominent squares in Berlin. Originally a competition entry for Deutsche Bahn’s new headquarters, cube berlin was conceived as a ‘sculptural centerpiece’ with a more delicate balance of context and content than typically expected of an office building. “When we began the design process,” Torben Østergaard, 3XN Partner in Charge of the project, said in a press statement, “our ambition was to create a building that would contribute to the animation of the square. We wanted to engage by-passers while providing top-notch office spaces.”

The triangulated facade of the 10-story building was designed to accomplish many of the firm’s goals using only 12 distinct glass elements. By pulling the facades inwards on the lower floors, the building provides partially-sheltered public spaces that enter into a dialogue with the recently-completed Main Railway Station Lehrter Bahnhof. The surroundings are reflected like a kaleidoscope in the building’s double-skin facade, which was engineered to yield substantial daylight, natural ventilation, and protection from solar heat gains. The multifaceted elevations are designed to provide additional outdoor spaces on the upper floors that promote interaction among its occupants. “The architectural body defines a soft – yet articulate – transition between inside and public space while allowing people to access outside platforms at every level and provide for a strong street-level interaction,” the firm’s website explains.

glass building with sky reflected in disparate panes, cube berlin

Upon close inspection, one can make out the outdoor terraces from the grounds of Washingtonplatz. (Adam Mørk/Courtesy 3XN)

The firm has billed cube berlin as the “smartest building in Europe” for its integration of data-collecting technology throughout the building that can be observed and managed using an app that occupants and visitors alike. The app is designed to encourage sustainable behavior, identify optimal workspaces based on its occupants’ unique preferences, and connect people to the overall square.

Cube berlin is the second building 3XN has completed in the city, following the Royal Danish Embassy in 1999.

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