The idea to bring the former Kindl brewery back to life as an art gallery was the brainchild of Burkhard Varnholt and Salome Grisard Varnholt. The art collector couple acquired the industrial monument in 2011 and initiated its use as a cultural institution. Zurich’s grisard’architektur ETH SIA architectural firm is run by the owner of the building and created the design and concept for the conversion. The origins of the listed ensemble consisting of a seven-storey tower as well as a boiler, brew and machine hall date back to the late 20s. Based on red-brick German expressionist style, the buildings were home to Berlin’s renowned Kindl beer brewery between 1930 and 2005. After being used for events for years, the three floors of the Maschinenhaus and the 20-metre Kesselhaus spaces have been used to display international contemporary art since opening in October 2016.
“Our aim was to make the expressionist cathedral-like brick building shine through appealing illumination”, the owner of the building Salome Grisard Varnholt says. “We wanted to add to this through contrasting new parts made of exposed concrete, such as the stairway or the square outside the front, so as to create a unique new art location”.
Various testimonials to the early 20th century were combined with modern stylistic elements. One example includes the six enormous, preserved copper kettles, once the largest of their kind in Europe, which were integrated into the modern ambience of the new König Otto cafe. This concept is also felt when it comes to the façade, which incorporates the historical red brick in a unique combination of new elements made of glass and exposed brick. Three companies from the field of façade construction and technology pooled their competence during planning and implementation. GIP GLAZING GmbH (Brunswick), BGT Bischoff Glastechnik AG (Bretten) and the façade experts at fischer SystemTec GmbH (Waldachtal) realised the transparent foyer and the seemingly floating glass stairway that reaches from the cellar to the top floor. The experts planned and installed the reinforced concrete cubatures of the foyer and stairway with glass elements on a total area of 600 m² within the space of a year and three months.
The new Structural Point Façade developed in cooperation by fischer, GIP GLAZING GmbH and BGT Bischoff Glastechnik AG provided the basis for the façade. “Glass blades” were used as supporting structures. These are transparent reinforcing elements as vertical glass posts with extremely slender cross-sections and high rigidity. They are unsupported and were installed from floor to ceiling. Combined with fischer’s minimalist Zykon glass point holder FZP-G, the use of these glass blades instead of metal posts creates a flowing, organic cubature. This technology makes the large-scale glazing appear to be a single transparent surface allowing a wide uninterrupted panoramic view across Berlin. The special undercut technology with corresponding drill holes in the glass means that the anchors are not penetrating the front side of the glass panel while securely and firmly fastening the glass elements to the supporting structure.
62 free-form elements (custom built) made out of laminated safety glass were used as glazing. The laminated glass was made out of two BI-Tensit model toughened glass types by BGT Bischoff Glastechnik AG. This fully thermally tempered glass is particularly resistant to impacts, blows and bending, as well as to thermal stress.
Old and new elements are combined with cunning ingenuity without dominating one another thanks to a sense of architectural awareness. Innovative façade technology makes the discreetly elegant and futuristic extension become a reality with its large-format glass panel that is set before the brick wall like a second skin.