KaDeWe Berlin by OMA
Location: Berlin, Germany
The historic Berlin department store Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) opened the doors to the first quadrant of the masterplan designed by OMA. A concentric void spanning six floors holds a series of wood-clad escalators. At the base, in extension of the Tauentzien Straße main entrance, the void serves both as a retail and event space.
Outside, a new two-story-high shop window for digital and analog presentations has been introduced on the corner of the Tauentzien Straße and Passauer Straße. Rather than treating the existing building as a singular mass, the project introduces four quadrants that fragment the original mass into smaller, easily accessible, and navigable components, similar to distinct urban sectors embedded into a unifying city fabric.
Each quadrant addresses a different street entrance and is organized around its core void, which acts both as a central atrium and a primary vertical circulation space. Through a process closer to curating than designing, each void is developed specifically, resulting in four distinct spatial experiences and four efficient models of organization within a single department store. Throughout the nine levels of the building, the voids transform in size and extension, avoiding repetition and making every floor unique: they disappear on the ground floor, morph through the commercial areas, and one of the voids reaches the new rooftop.
With this project, OMA and KaDeWe address the accelerating shifts in consumer behavior and the challenges and opportunities brought by online retail that are affecting the traditional department store. OMA Partner Ellen van Loon: “The renovation of the KaDeWe aims to redefine the dynamics between retail space, its patrons, and the urban environment, in a time when e-commerce is reshaping our relation with in-person shopping. The project reinterprets the fundamental elements of a typology that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years.”
The master plan and renovation of the Berlin department store, ongoing since 2016, marks OMA’s first project for KaDeWe Group. The project is led by Ellen van Loon and Rem Koolhaas, with Project Architect Natalie Konopelski.