Since 1981, Schaubühne Berlin has been housed on Lehniner Platz. The building, with its distinctive rounded façade, was erected as part of architect Erich Mendelsohn’s “WOGA- Complex” in 1928. After a lively, 90 – year long history seeing a variety of uses and numerous conversions, in the spring of 2018 the reception area of the now listed building underwent a redesign and expansion: following plans by Barkow Leibinger, a generous new box office has been created on the site of the former “Universum Lounge”. The ticket booth that previously occupied the foyer has been opened up bringing a bar to the reception area.
Architects: Barkow Leibinger
Location: Berlin, Germany
Lead Architects: Barkow Leibinger,Frank Barkow, Regine Leibinger
Team: Antje Steckhan (Project Architect), Jens Wessel, Andreas Moling, Reidar Mester (Model, Implementation Lighting Element)
Area: 860.0 ft2
Project Year: 2018
Photographs: Simon Menges , Ina Reinecke
Lighting Design: Licht Kunst Licht AG, Berlin, Germany (Consulting)
Construction Bar: Uwe Küttner Möbelbau und Inneneinrichtung GmbH, Berlin, Germany
Construction Box Office: Tischlerei Sekura, Königs Wusterhausen mit Voit & Partner GmbH & Co.KG, Nahetal-Waldau, Germany
Client: Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz Gemeinnützige Theaterbetriebs GmbH, Berlin, Germany Berliner Immobilienmanagement (BIM), Berlin, Germany
The aim of the renovation was to bring into unison the functional and technical demands of a contemporary theater box office with the characteristic design features of the listed building, utilizing careful interventions to preserve as much as possible while carrying forward the formal language of the original 1930s design.
Designed by Erich Mendelsohn to be Berlin’s largest cinema at the time, the horseshoe- shaped building was severely damaged during World War II. From 1946, it was gradually rebuilt and went through various transformations, including a dance club and a venue for musical theater. From 1978 to 1981, the Berlin architect Jürgen Sawade converted the building into a multifunctional state-of-the-art theater building and stage for the Schaubühne ensemble. The foyer’s cylindrical ticket booth, in use until 2017, separated visitors and ticket-selling sta via a curved pane of glass, but had recently been unable to meet the theater’s technical needs and spatial demands.
As part of Barkow Leibinger’s redesign, a new box office was created on the premises of the former “Universum Lounge”, west of the main entrance. The plan picks up on an unrealized design concept by Jürgen Sawade for a restaurant that was initially planned for the space: a central, elongated piece of furniture, here incorporating an open box office counter and a bench that follows the curved geometry of the building.
As a counterpart, low benches are incorporated into the window recesses facing Kurfürsten- damm. A long, curved light box above the central bench and several monitors and display surfaces embedded into the back wall and the counter provide space for engaging content on current programming alongside ticket sale information. Next to the counter a small back office was built.
The thoughtful material concept for the box office focuses on homogeneous white solid surface material surfaces, maintaining the distinctive look of Jürgen Sawade’s renovated interior. The use of brown leather cushions throughout the seating creates a bold contrast. As in the rest of the building, brass recessed lighting creates colorful accents. The bright, Solnhofener natural stone tiles, characteristic of the time of the building’s construction, were preserved.
The cylindrical former ticket booth is now used as a bar and point of sale for publications. An open, round counter resulted from removing the surrounding glass and the closed, semicircular back. Underneath the organically-curved work surface sits custom- t storage for refrigeration units and technical equipment. The signature circumferential radiators were replaced in their original form. In addition to the continued use here of white solid surface material along with white lacquered sheet metal, a counter top made of polished brass sheet metal was added, matching the building’s existing fittings.
A new accent to the space is a circular lighting element made from acrylic glass, floating like a crystalline cloud above the bar while providing atmospheric lighting via myriad refractions amongst its 835 individual tubes. Due to its transparency and simplicity, as well as its consideration of the existing formal language, the installation blends deftly into the interior space as previously designed. The conversion of the ticket booth to a bar has overall opened the foyer spatially, making transitions between interior and exterior more fluid.