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OMA to revamp German department store

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OMA has revealed its vision for the revamp of Berlin’s historic KaDeWe department store


The 90,000m2 shop, which first opened in 1907, is Europe’s largest department store but its current model is becoming obsolete with the age of internet shopping.

OMA’s scheme for the store breaks it up into four quadrants each with different architectural qualities and targeted at a different audience.

Each quadrant addresses a different street entrance and is organised around a central core and atrium space. These voids change in size throughout the building’s nine storeys.

The store’s original vaulted rooftop restaurant will be replaced by a new glazed addition and an external courtyard which provides views out over Berlin. This new rooftop level will be connected to the street by a pair of escalators.

KaDeWe by OMA

KaDeWe by OMA

KaDeWe by OMA

KaDeWe by OMA

Architect’s view

Since its opening in 1907, KaDeWe has always been at the forefront of products’ selections while also setting new standards for patron services. Its unique size – the biggest department store in continental Europe – makes it akin to a city: a three dimensional network of paths, squares, neighbourhoods, activities and views unfolding through its large extensions and providing opportunities for commercial social and cultural encounters. Its evolution reflects Germany’s modern history: from its origins in the early 20th century, through WWII destructions and the subsequent rebirth in the 1950’s when it became a symbol of the country’s post war reconstruction and economic success.

Late 20th century modifications, accelerating global economic shifts and the challenges brought by the digital revolution have turned KaDeWe’s current set up into an obsolete model. There is now a need to investigate an alternative to the established retail model - a model able to redefine the relationship of the department store both with its patrons and with its physical and urban environments. Our proposal for the transformation of KaDeWe is tactical.

Rather than treating the existing building as a singular mass, the project aims to break it into four quadrants, each one with different architectural and commercial qualities, targeted at different audiences: classic, experimental, young, generic, etc…; four department stores under one single roof, fragmenting the original mass into smaller, easily accessible and navigable components – similar to distinct urban sectors embedded into a unifying city fabric.

Each quadrant addresses a different street entrance and is organized around its core void acting both as a main central atrium and a primary vertical distribution space. Through a process closer to the one of curating rather than designing, each void is developed specifically to offer four kinds of distinct spatial experiences and four efficient models of organization. Throughout the nine levels of the building the voids transform in size and extension, avoiding any repetition and making every floor unique: they disappear on the ground floor, morph through the commercial areas, and - in one case only - reach the new rooftop.

KaDeWe by OMA

KaDeWe by OMA

Project data

Location Berlin, Germany
Type of project retail
Architect OMA
Local architects Architekturbüro Udo Landgraf and Heine Architekten Partnerschaft mbB
Client KaDeWe Group
Project manager SMV Bauprojektsteuerung Ingenieursgesellschaft mbH
Structural engineer IBK Ing.-Büro für Tragwerksplanung
Mechanical engineer IBT Ingenieurbüro Trache
Area 90,000m2

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