by Paulina Marzoch
My choice for this critic is Lafayette Gallery, placed on the corner of Friedrichstraße and Französische Straße. One of the reasons why I’ve chosen this building is the fact that it is a great contrast to shopping malls in Poland. They are usually built of cheap materials, and we can usually observe a lack of windows and glass there. Unlike Lafayette Gallery: at first it seems to be entirely made of glass. Interiors of malls in Poland are not interesting as well. Neverending halls with chains of various, random shops. The Berlin Project of Pritzker Award laureate Jean Nouvel shows that it doesn’t have to be this way.
Gallery Lafayette doesn’t look to me like a shopping mall at all. During the observation of its twin face glass façade, I came to the conclusion that it resembles the kind of modern buildings where companies have their headquarters. This project of a shopping mall originally was planed to be situated in Paris. It was part of a big investment. Three big blocks among Friedrichstraße from Französische Strasse to Mohrenstraße were connected by some underground tunnels. In Jean Nouvel’s project the question where the Gallery (whose official name is Quartier 207) is situated was an important aspect. The place is an introduction to the building complex: the corner of Französische Straße and Friedrichstraße is claimed to be one of Berlin’s most recognizable views.
To me very intriguing is the interior of the building, especially the cone structures. They cut through several floors and provide daylight to the mall and offices. Through the biggest of those cones you can see all floors of the building. But apart from the ground floor, where you can look up and down inside the cone structure, this structure is like a wall of glass. This is a great solution because the cone allows air circulation in the mall and at the same time prevents noise from lower floors from spreading to offices. I don’t know how high the bills for current are (and I think I don’t want to know) but this solution seems to be not only pretty but quite ecological.
Every detail of the interior is projected with great precision. Especially lights drew my attention. They were treated very individual, the ones placed in tunnels connecting quarters differ from the ones in upper floors.
What I find stunning is the “green wall” placed above the main entrance. I found information that before there was a screen with diode lights, but five years ago it was replaced by a container with soil and plants. Q207 looks especially stunning by night, when lights running along all floors are lit up.
Although the building was opened in 1996 it’s seems modern till today. It’s still a building in the right place at the right time. Placed in a district that seems quite posh, it cumulates people that match the district. Gallery Lafayette seems to be profitable both for service and customers.