Located in the very heart of Berlin-Mitte, the Postfuhramt is one of the city’s most important and cherished historical monuments. Neglected for over 15 years, Asaf Gottesman and Gottesman Szmelcman Architecture were approached to redesign it as an hotel, yet it quickly became apparent to us that the building was ill suited to fulfill such a function. A more complex mixed-use program was required if the inherent qualities of the site and its underlying values were to be maximized.
What emerged is a plan for a vibrant and dynamic cultural center and a unique mixed-use residential development that could also serve as an urban and cultural generator for the entire Mitte area. The scheme proposed two museums, various Art galleries, fashion outlets, restaurants and cafes, a 80 keys boutique hotel and luxury residential apartments.
In formulating a scheme for the redevelopment of the Postfuhramt there were several important challenges, the greatest of which was how to incorporate a substantial new building within this historic neighborhood. We opted for a free flowing contemporary building that would serve as a destination rather than succumb to Postfuhramt's historical weight. In spite of the radical nature of the proposal, the architectural scheme was unanimously approved by the municipality.
When the financial crisis of 2008 hit, the clients hesitated and the project was suspended. Unable to raise the required finance, the property was sold and the opportunity lost. There are numerous factors that contribute to a successful development including timing, cool headed analysis of market conditions and market sentiments. The financial and real estate crisis of 2008 introduced the notion of risk to a generation of developers who had only known a bull market. To those with more experience, the crisis did not only introduce a sense of reality to an overheated market but also created unique opportunities.