World leading architecture practice OMA is just as known for its bold new builds, such as the nearly-complete Taipei Performing Art Centre, as it is about its well planned refurbishments and redesigns – the Wallpaper* Best Public Building award-winning Prada Foundation or the Fondaco dei Tedeschi palazzo in Venice, a highly anticipated and currently ongoing project, are prime examples.
The studio's latest addition to the category is the well known Kaufhaus des Westerns department store in Berlin, AKA KaDeWe. The much loved historic establishment – which first opened in 1907 – has been in need of 'redefining its current model', explain the architects, and renovation plans by OMA have just been unveiled.
Pioneering the early modern shopping experience and helping to define retail as we know it today, department stores all over Europe have been acting as incubators for sophisticated crafts, social exchange and challenging experimentation in services, say OMA. The new design will be able to cater for the fast-paced, latest changes in the industry and the contemporary shopper's needs.
In their design solution, OMA broke down the building in four distinct parts, which would help them make the store feel more easily accessible and navigable. Treating the large building like a mini-city with its own 'urban' fabric, they were able to introduce ways of adapting and responding to 'accelerating shifts in consumer behavior and the challenges brought by online retail that have affected the tradition department store model'.
This is the famous Dutch practice's second ongoing project in Berlin – the first one being a new building for the Axel Springer media group. Not that these represent the first time the firm has ever worked in the German capital; the Netherlands Embassy from 2003 and the Checkpoint Charlie Apartments from 1990 are among the practice's notable earlier works there.