Fab 40: Town House O-10, Berlin, by D Chipperfield
Few architectural firms understand contemporary Berlin as well as David Chipperfield Architects. After their strikingly sensitive and highly acclaimed refurbishment of the Neues Museum earlier this year, along with the building of a very beautiful private gallery building opposite, Chipperfield pretty much walks on water as far as Berliners are concerned.
Now, with project architect Markus Bauer, the practice has completed a new townhouse on a thin sliver of land a few hundred metres away – part of a project to bring back variety and density to parts of the historic centre. The Townhouse O-10 is utterly reduced, modern and minimal: white walls, smooth beech floors and a good use of vertical and horizontal planes to make the play of light from the huge, grey-framed windows particularly interesting.
As with the Neues Museum, there are historical references here, predominantly to the smaller buildings of the great German modernist architects that are dotted around the city, but they are not overpowering. Berlin is all about layers and the harmony of contrasts. Chipperfield gets this completely.