Sony Center, Berlin

Sony Center, Berlin

The Sony Centre at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin is a complex of seven individual buildings with a total floor area of 132,500 m².

This lively urban ensemble comprises Sony‘s new European headquarters on Kemper Platz, a high-rise office on Potsdamer Platz, other buildings for offices, apartments, shops and restaurants, the historic Esplanade hotel, a film center, which among others houses the Marlene Dietrich Collection and, an entertainment area with an IMAX 3D cinema. On the four subterranean levels which take up a large part of the triangular 26,444 m² plot, are the service areas for each building, parking decks and railway stations for public transport for short and long distances.

The complex, built to the competition-winning design of Helmut Jahn, boasts a 4,000 m² roofed plaza, known as the “Forum”. This elliptical arena is a brand new type of open-air grounds for Berlin and one that looks very firmly into the 21st century in terms of function and design.

Integrated into the complex are the parts of the Hotel Esplanade that survived the bombing in the Second World War. Two famous halls of the grand hotel – the Breakfast Salon and the Imperial Salon – had to be physically moved in 1996 to accommodate the development plan and, to enable a widening of Potsdamer Straße. The old hotel, now a listed building, stands behind walls of steel and glass, as if it would be located in a huge showcase. It is shielded by a standing seam roof of matt, abrasion-blasted stainless steel sheets.

As the historic building could not bear the load of the new 12,500-tons weighing “Esplanade-Residence”, the frame of the new apartment hotel straddles it over a width of 60m: most of the apartments are suspended by the 12m high roof frame, consisting of two main trussed girders and six 4.40m high transverse girders.

The roof of the IMAX cinema is tilted towards the Forum and numerous wall surfaces of the 3D film theatre and the film center are clad with a stainless steel mesh of wire and round bars. These are interlaced in such a way they leave 50 percent of the surface clear.

Another recurring element in the facades at the Sony Centre are profiled 1.5 mm stainless steel sheets. The surfaces are fine polished (grit size 320) and brushed. In the ellipse-shaped Forum this zigzag sheet is curved to create a wave effect and emphasize the sweep of the space. Throughout the long punctuated facade of the Film House and the “Deutsche Kinemathek” on Potsdamer Straße profiled panels were also used.

Vertical glass fins that are attached to stainless steel fixing points, reinforce the glass façade. Specially designed for the Sony Centre, narrow bands of profiled stainless steel sheet space the floor-high glass panels on the facade. Only 135mm deep, this construction is used on the high-rise office on Potsdamer Platz, on Sony’s headquarters building and on the office building of Sanofi-Synthelabo. The facade is reinforced by interior and exterior 15mm double glass fins.

Stainless steel fixing points create a structural connection between the glazing and the uprights in the facade frame.

Alternate facade units are fitted with power-operated open-out-and-tilt vents for ventilation and smoke extraction in the rooms behind. Stainless steel is also used on the facade of the Sanofi-Synthelabo building, as continuous bands marking out the parapet levels. The 2 mm thick sheets are fixed to perimeter frames and suspended flush with the facade in a mullion and transom construction. Patterned squares, 30 x 30mm, structure the 1,094mm high and approx. 1,200mm wide units. The surface is polished vertically (grit size 320) and brushed.