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GSW Headquarters Berlin: Sauerbruch Hutton Architects

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Lars Muller, 2000. 256pp. £28.95. (Available from Triangle bookshop, 020 7631 1381)

The publisher has done Sauerbruch Hutton proud, writes Paul Finch . This is one of the best designed and illustrated books about a single project, especially a semi-commercial development, to appear in recent years. The building is the competition-winning headquarters for Berlin's largest housing association, GSW - now shortlisted for the Stirling Prize. What gives the project particular interest is the way the architect treated the mid-1950s tower and the attitude it inspired in relation to the big questions facing Berlin after 1989: whether political and geographical reconciliation could find an echo in the new architecture which would inevitably result.

The GSW scheme is a mini-complex comprising the refurbished original block, an additional elegantly curved linked tower and ancillary low-rise buildings. The low-energy whole is informed by the architect's delight in colour and freeform shapes (see also the Photonics Centre, AJ 3.9.98), but is clearly rooted in history and the genius loci.

The care with which it has been created is in marked contrast to the embarrassing commercial mish-mash which has denied Potsdamerplatz the urbanism it deserved.

It is hard to fault the exemplary photography, drawings and descriptions. A critical essay would have completed the picture, though the book essentially speaks for itself.

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