Photo © Tobias Hein
Photo © Kevin Fuchs
Photo © Kevin Fuchs
Photo © Tobias Hein
Photo © Tobias Hein
Photo © Kevin Fuchs
Photo © Kevin Fuchs
Photo © Tobias Hein
Photo © Tobias Hein

Paragon Apartments

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Danziger Straße 73-77, Berlin Prenzlauer Berg, Alemanha
Trockland Management Group
25,100 m2

North-east of the intersection of Prenzlauer Allee and Danzinger Strasse lies the site of the Paragon Apartments, between the dense block developments at Kollwitzplatz and Helmholzplatz and the open residential district bordering to the east. The new quarters, with 217 premium rental apartments, a kindergarten, a café and an organic supermarket, combine the urban qualities of the Prenzlauer Berg district and the adjacent park-like surroundings. Paragon complements the block without closing it entirely. The result is a unique layout for residential quarters: a hybrid of perimeter block and open buildings consisting of a renovated building structure and two newly constructed additional buildings. With this ambitious development, GRAFT offers a solution to the necessity of creating diversity in a modern and urban housing project.

The starting point of Paragon Apartments is a former hospital building, built as a school house in 1912, and located between Danziger Strasse and Fröbelplatz. Its roof was dismantled and replaced with two new upper floors. Three other existing buildings, built at a later time, have been integrated in the project and modified in size. Two new constructions complete the existing buildings: one along Danziger Strasse and the other at the backside at Fröbelplatz. Together they create the connection to the perimeter block development of the neighborhood.

The ensemble of Paragon Apartments has a total of three common courtyards. A public space at the intersection creates the entrance situation and leads into the first inner courtyard. All apartments are accessible from here. The main entrance of the old hospital still exists and is highlighted by the first courtyard. The old hallways are integrated into the new design. Also, the existing staircases to the upper floors remain accessible. Typical high ceilings of the old building offer a unique quality of life, which is increased further by the addition of new balconies.

The first courtyard can also be accessed through an additional entrance at Fröbelplatz. This creates the opportunity for a partly private, partly public connection within the quarter, offering a path from the urban front face to the green, calm park side. A community space including a library, available for all tenants, is located along this path. It serves as a kind of club room.

GRAFT developed a notably efficient housing cube for this particular project. A 2-room-apartment cube with a size of 37,5 sqm forms the basis for the new buildings. Living and sleeping areas are connected through a sliding door. The bathroom functions as a passage, as it is accessible from both rooms. Configured furniture within the cube allows for a centralized experience between the bath, living and sleeping rooms. Although the apartments are of a small scale, they exhibit a loft-like spatial feel.

Apartments located in the new building at Danziger Strasse are equipped with balconies of different depths. Lying next to and above one another, they are assembled in a displaced or shifted arrangement, which creates the appearance of three-dimensional movement on the facade. The same cubes were used in the old roof structure to create larger living spaces, measuring up to 250 m2 in area. The basic DNA of the new building seems to arise from the structure at Danziger Strasse, wandering over the rooftops towards Fröbelplatz. Old and new buildings grow together into an integrated ensemble.

The cubes are made of prefabricated concrete parts that are finished with high precision and a bright appearance. The new buildings also consist of a high amount of glass. The cube’s frames serve as sun protection. As they are very flexible in use, the cubes were combined to create larger apartments at the roof floors. Although the new structures of the ensemble offer diverse living spaces, the appearance of the façade remains homogenous.

The perimeter block has not been closed entirely and the historical urban structure of the old building remains visible, leaving also the green courtyards open to their environment. In the middle of one of the densest areas of Berlin, the new Paragon Apartments offer a large number of apartments with green surroundings and views overlooking the park and courtyards.

The three common courtyards of the ensemble offer green areas with seating, a playground for children and parking spaces for bicycles. A café and a kindergarten are located in the first courtyard. The third courtyard has a private garden which merges into the public park area.

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