Buildings, vibes and history

Why we enjoy being architects in Berlin

Our place in the world shapes who we are, including us as architects. Berlin leaves its mark on us every day – just as we try to make the capital a little more interesting and exciting with our designs and planning. What makes Berlin so fascinating for architects like us? An overview.

Why is Berlin important for our architecture and what makes the location so attractive for OOW?

Few other cities in Europe are as creative and dynamic. In our opinion, Berlin can play along with world metropolises such as New York or London – the latter, by the way, is well known to oow founders Sebastian Blancke and Mathis Malchow. The two met while they were both working at Norman Foster’s firm in the British capital. Berlin’s advantage: Compared to other hotspots, the capital is still relatively affordable. This draws creative and open-minded people to the city, which benefits oow as an employer. Most of our staff come to Berlin from abroad. The work at oow appeals to them – but of course the vibrant metropolis does too.

If you’re a fan of good architecture, which buildings should you check out in Berlin?

1) Reichstag dome

The glass and steel construction above the plenary hall is one of Berlin’s most iconic structures. The giant dome dome (40 metres in diameter, 3000 square metres of glass, 800 tonnes of steel) reveals the distinctive style of star architect Norman Foster, who played a major role in its construction. Incidentally, it was at his London office during their all-night drafting sessions that our founders Mathis Malchow and Sebastian Blancke decided to start their own business together as architects in Berlin.What’s good to know: The dome is open to everyone – this might be the closest you’ll ever get to excellent architecture and the workings of a democracy at the same time.

2) The Philological Library of the Freie Universität in Dahlem

Study architecture where architectural history was made: The striking new building was designed – like the Reichstag dome – by Norman Foster. The library resembles the shape of a brain and is therefore known as “The Berlin Brain”. What’s interesting: Several prominent architects helped shape the appearance of Freie Universität. Georges Candilis, Alexis Josic, Shadrach Woods and Manfred Schiedhelm designed the “Rust and Silver Arbour” building complexes. Incidentally, the façade of the “Rust Arbour” is proportioned according to the rules of the Modulor measurement system. The Henry Ford Building with the university’s Auditorium Maximum was conceived by Franz-Heinrich Sobotka and Gustav Müller.

3) DZ Bank at Pariser Platz

Beautifully austere with wide masonry pillars made of Italian sandstone on the outside; a dazzling display by star architect Frank Gehry on the inside: We are impressed by the curved glass roof and the wooden cocoon that hovers above the conference room. Incidentally, for the creator of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, this hall is “the best shape I have designed in my entire life so far”.

4) Axel Springer New Building

The cube-shaped building (completed in 2020 after four years of construction) is located around the corner from oow’s office. It was conceived by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who also designed his country’s embassy in Berlin as well as the luxurious interior of the legendary KaDeWe department store. The light-flooded building is characterised by interconnecting terraces, a 45-metre-high atrium and building elements with a 3D effect.

Where is the oow architecture firm located in Berlin and what makes the location so special?

Berlin has undergone an insane transformation and is constantly changing. As an architect, this has its special charm: In Berlin, we plan the ever-changing.

This is also evident at our office in the symbolic Leipziger Strasse – since the fall of the Wall, it has once again become one of the main connections between the West and East of the city. You have to imagine Leipziger Strasse as a mixture of socialist prefab buildings characteristic of the GDR, sophisticated shopping architecture on the intersecting Friedrichstrasse and opulent office, leisure and shopping facilities at Leipziger Platz. We find there is a special, very distinctive vibe here with an exciting range of spaces: not polished, not perfect, but with a lot of freedom of thought. And that shows in our architecture. 

As architects, we are inspired by the buildings and designs of Berlin just as much as we help shape the metropolis to a certain extent – for example with building and design projects for public authorities, new rental housing or for offices.

What does the OOW architecture firm work on from Berlin?

Our architecture firm creates high-quality spaces for living and working – from draft to execution. Our work focuses on the following areas:

  • Rental housing
  • Residential
  • Social housing
  • Commercial architecture
  • Office fit-outs
  • Hotel construction, hotel planning
  • Sustainable building

Leopoldplatz - "Housing in Berlin by oow"

With the new rental apartment building at Leopoldplatz we did not only design a beautiful façade, but also created more than 8,000 square metres of affordable living space by means of the design details. Not only the city planning department was thrilled, but also the owner, who can rent out six times the space formerly used.

Treffpunkt Demenz” at the Augustinum Kleinmachnow

In order to create a pioneering facility for the care of people with dementia, Treffpunkt Demenz” at the Augustinum Kleinmachnow we spared no effort and visited facilities both in Germany and abroad. This resulted in a concept that can become the standard care model.

Offices for the German Parliament

For the Offices for the German Parliament in a prime Berlin location, we took on the rental planning as well as interior design and implementation – and created 220 offices on 8400 square metres in record time.

7074 Beton - "Radically minimalist rear house in Berlin"

With “7047 // Concrete” we created a radically minimalist rear building – combining carefully chosen materials and perfectionist attention to details, right down to the custom-made concrete bathtub.

260° Bar - "Our contribution to Berlin nightlife - the 260° Bar".

The rooftop bar “260 Grad” is our contribution to Berlin’s nightlife:
When it gets darker, the concept reveals its own magic with harmonising colours and materials.

Medical Centre Potsdam

With the Medical Centre Potsdam we have demonstrated how spaces that were previously used as flats and offices can be converted into a modern medical centre – in close consultation with the heritage conservation authority.

Ride Berlin

At first glance, Ride Berlin is a typical spinning gym. But our design created an indoor cycling studio with a club atmosphere, where fitness enthusiasts work up a sweat to

What about training as an architect in Berlin?

What’s good to know (and very important for us as a growing firm): In Berlin, architects don’t just work on the most exciting new projects – the talents of tomorrow are also trained here at numerous universities (as was our founder Mathis Malchow, by the way: He studied at Technische Universität).

Architecture can be studied at several locations in Berlin:

  • at Technische Universität (TU) Berlin
  • at Berliner Hochschule für Technik
  • at Berlin University of the Arts
All three universities offer Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programmes. We can say from personal experience: architecture and Berlin – they go together beautifully.