Form & Function: Futuristic. Popstars within the crowd of architects. Trendsetter. Celebrity architects.
The press has many names for this trinity of architecture: Wolfram Putz, Thomas Willemeit and Lars Krückberg.
"Inspiration has no limits, and neither does our architecture"
The GRAFT architects in conversation about WAVE and its unique waterfront location, Berlin, their guiding principles and architecture without limits.
What makes WAVE a typical GRAFT project?
GRAFT: GRAFT represents an openness to new ideas and follows an integrated approach. The typical GRAFT project aims to provide a holistic, parametric system that surprises with
its aesthetic ideas. GRAFT architecture is always the result of diverse influences: the environment, historical context, climate, programme, technology, sustainability, the client’s expectations – all this comes together in the design of WAVE..
Name three features that defi ne the character of WAVE.
GRAFT: Urban. Open and with plenty of light. Hybrid.
What was your approach to designing WAVE?
GRAFT: We first considered the unique “genius loci” – the location on the Spree with its views, neighbourhoods and the phenomena that only a waterfront setting can give to a location. Reflections of light, panoramic views. The design was optimised for these qualities.
Which elements of this special location are reflected in the architecture?
GRAFT: The building uses a curved design language on the side facing the Spree, which gives us a narrative bridge into the dream world of living on the water. Maximising the length of the façade through the curved, wave-like erosion of the classic Berlin apartment block guarantees a water view for the majority of apartments. On the Stralauer Allee side, the building is transformed into a cubic language, thereby finding a formal connection to the Wilheminian architecture of the neighbourhood to the north.
Sun and water, a building like a superyacht – how do you interpret these associations?
GRAFT: All the apartments facing the Spree catch the sunlight from the south, have a panoramic view of the water and reflect the light like a glass wave under the sun. Even in the special interiors, the choice of materials and attention to the smallest details reflect the association with water and are translated into boat building details. This is a constant reminder to the resident of the exceptionally special location and ambience. The balcony amplifies the feeling of being on a boat by forming a boundary with the water, like a railing.
The WAVE outdoor facilities add a new dimension to living. What did you emphasise in particular in this regard?
GRAFT: Activating the roof as an “urban beach”: many of the apartments are assigned a share of the sun decks, which were designed by kre_ta landscape architecture. It’s like a garden in the sky over Berlin. There are also communal sundecks and the courtyard garden to the Spree, which provides many visual references to the water and to the other side of the river and is divided into two gardens per building.
You yourself live in Berlin. What makes the capital particularly attractive as a place to live?
GRAFT: The city is exciting because it is so diverse. The constant change, the incomplete and the contradictory make Berlin very lively and interesting. The location of WAVE in Friedrichshain on the River Spree is a good example of the rapid development in Berlin.
GRAFT is more than “just” architecture – what is the GRAFT philosophy?
GRAFT: We are interested in combining various creative approaches – and we translate these into architecture, which makes it richer and more interesting and creates added value for the location.
Your projects are spread over the entire globe. How international can architcture be?
GRAFT: Inspiration has no limits, and our architecture also transcends borders. We incorporate trends and markets into our projects, we don’t follow an international style but rather hyper-regionalism, a hybrid of various influences. Our international teams form the foundation of our architecture and thus a part of our international success.
To what extent do you have the opportunity to show social responsibility as architects?
GRAFT: Each project offers its own opportunities to deal with social responsibility. With WAVE, we focus on good quality and the use of sustainable materials. The possibilities are endless, as long as one has the courage to do something and to show initiative. We demonstrate this in many examples: the Solar Kiosk, the Make it Right Foundation or Heimat2, a concept for modular housing, which is especially topical in times of refugee movement. These projects are described in the book “Architecture Activism”.