The new Axel Springer building in Berlin was officially opened on 6th October 2020 during a ceremonial opening, with inaugural speeches by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, architect Rem Koolhaas and Axel Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner. Exactly four years after the start of construction, the new cube-shaped building is the latest addition to the Axel-Springer Campus, the ensemble of different premises at the media and technology company’s headquarters.
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE: “We wanted the new building to be a symbol and an accelerator of our own transformation. Long before the coronavirus, the mission was to find a new answer to the question of why office space is still needed at all in the digital age. Rem Koolhaas has provided a spectacular reply. Open, multifunction spaces that enable maximum flexibility of use. Avant-garde architecture as a magnet for encounters and communication. The building as a powerhouse of creativity.”
Rem Koolhaas, architect and founder of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA): “Paradoxically, the current pandemic and concurrent digital acceleration, demonstrate the need for spaces conceived for human beings to interact. In the typical office building, a visitor enters, and then disappears.. It is far from clear what happens inside. In the new Axel Springer building, people and their interaction, are the essence. The Springer building is a tool for the further development of a company in perpetual motion. It offers its users a physical base – a wide variety of spatial conditions, intimate to monumental – in contrast to the flatness of working in virtual space.”
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany: “Axel Springer signed a bond for the future with the development of its publishing house. It paid off, thirty years ago when our country was reunited, just as it does today. But it seems to me that this new house, too, does not only interpret the times in which we live. It wants to stand for the future. This house also wants to be a symbol. A symbol of the radical transformation of a publishing house into a media company, a response to the demands and challenges of digitization.”
The new Axel Springer building offers 52,000 square meters of workspace for more than 3,000 employees and is characterized by its open, transparent architecture. Straddling the former border, the 45-meter high, light-flooded atrium divides the building into sections in a perpetual encounter with each other across the space. In the space between, the terraced ten stories and 13 bridges create connections between the sections and provide inspiration for physical encounters in the digital age.
The new occupants have now almost all moved in and the first units have been working there since early 2020. The tenants include the shopping and comparison platform idealo, the editorial offices of WELT Print and WELT Digital, WELT TV, Media Impact and various central departments of Axel Springer. In spite of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the building was completed on time and on budget.
More from the structural engineers | ARUP
As one of Europe’s largest media corporations, Germany’s Axel Springer Group is fast-tracking its digital transformation as it journeys from classic print media into an online media powerhouse.
We partnered with architects OMA to win the international design competition for this iconic new building that celebrates the creation of a Berlin campus encompassing the existing Axel Springer headquarters.
Designing a dramatic atrium
The light-flooded cube-shaped building celebrates the future of digital work and collaboration, bringing the brand’s digital subsidiaries into the building to network them with the rest of the brand. Structured around a 45-metre-high glass central atrium, a series of symmetrical terraced floors run throughout the building creating a fluid, visually connected working environment with a mix of traditional and informal workspaces.
A large grid shell on the side of the building with angled geometric glass panels allow natural light to flood the atrium. Inside, the visual connectivity is enhanced by a collaborative meeting bridge, connecting the two sides of the atrium with a viewing platform open to the public offering a glimpse into the daily functioning of the company.
During the competition, we helped define the concept in close collaboration with OMA and demonstrated how it could be constructed. Following the commission, we developed the structural design for the building and the atrium façade supporting structure.
“Sophisticated 3D modelling and analysis techniques were used to simulate and optimise the complex construction with the upper floors partly hanging from the roof level transfer structure.”Carsten Hein Associate Director, Arup Berlin
A contemporary structural masterpiece
Described by the client as a ‘structural masterpiece’, images of the building give an idea of the gigantic dimensions of the 45-metre-high atrium. To bring to life this spectacular glass courtyard with its floating terrace landscape, the number of columns was reduced in the atrium doubling the typical structural span from 8 to 16m. Our structural engineers designed a 1,325-ton heavy steel transfer structure on the top floor to carry the hanging loads from the secondary columns of the five floors above the atrium and transferring them to the primary column grid. The transfer structure was optimised by the introduction of diagonal struts in the transfer level to reduce the effective span of the transfer beams.
Eye-catching glazed facade
Arup also designed the supporting frame structure for atrium’s striking glazed façade, working in close collaboration with OMA to define the geometry of the angled panels with the supporting structure, we developed a space frame grid shell made of hollow steel profiles that resist the wind and gravity loads.
“I am sure that this futuristic, light-flooded new building will also form the ideal space to further inspire communication and creativity and continue the successful course of the digital growth of the Axel Springer corporation.”Michael Müller Governing Mayor of Berlin