Otto Bock Science Center – a surprising weirdo

by Justyna Luczak

Dear Building,

I must admit, at the beginning I didn’t like you. You were one of the first buildings I paid attention to when I went for a walk to admire the architecture of Berlin for the first time. On the way to Potsdamer Platz along Ebertstraβe, you appeared suddenly. You are so white, so bright, so strange. You don’t fit to your steel-concrete-glass neighborhood. To be honest, you made me laugh with your Curver laundry baskets-look [1]. Ridiculous Berlin! You will never stop surprising me!”, I thought. Bringing to mind the MM Gallery in Poznan [2] did not help you. There was no possibility to escape from you while visiting Berlin. Even from the Reichstag’s dome you distinguish yourself like a white block in the colourful carpet.

My intentions were truly just to criticize. You don’t fit here, basket” – I said.

Eventually, resisting the temptation was no longer possible. I had to analyze you, Weirdo. I have decided to meet you – and you surprised me.

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This discussed building is designed by the team of Gnädinger Architects and is called Science Center Medical Technology. It is the office for the medical technology company Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH, one of the most experienced companies in the world producing prosthesis and orthopedic products. And indeed, the architecture of this building resembles organic structures of the human body such as muscle fibers or bones. Therefore, the surprising and exceptional modern look of the Science Center is by no means a coincidence.

The Otto Bock company helps disabled and injured athletes. The Science Center is more than a representative headquarter of the company. Three levels serve as multimedia exhibition space where visitors can find information about the skeletal and musculoskeletal system. One can also learn how modern prostheses work and what difficulties disabled people face in everyday life. Further floors are mostly research areas and workplaces.

The architectural design is really modern and unique for that area of Berlin. Aluminum elements, round at the edges, encased by irregularly curved façade ribbons are running all around the building and overlap smooth glass. The top floor is surrounded by a terrace and the roof is made to be a green garden with modern sculptures.

The interior is minimalist and substantially connected with the façade. White simple furniture and expositions seem to be made from the same fabric as the elevation and contrast with the dark, cool floor. An atmosphere of purity, science, medicine and high technologies is created through that unity.

The Science Center Medical Technology responds to the context of the city’s stone buildings. With its complex, flowing forms based on freeform curves, it creates a new look for this space. The building certainly stands out and compels curiosity. Furthermore,“an alien” standing between the heavy Potsdamer Platz buildings makes a lot of sense here: it presents its content.

Dear Building, I want to apologize for judging. You are extravagant and you have the right to be like that! You told me your story and why you are here and in this shape. And it seems very fair, you cannot be different.

Now I am looking forward seeing you again!

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all images by René Georg Johansen

[1] CURVER is a home design specialist for creative plastics.
[2|MM Gallery is a shopping center in Poznan, Poland, opened in 2013. A lot of controversies are connected with the gallery: Poznan inhabitants do not approve of the architectural design of this building, which does not fit in the neighborhood (old town buildings), construction works were long and exceedingly inconvenient, due to overcrowded area of the center of Poznan. The author of this text comes from Poznan. 

 

 

 

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