Berlin: Cool Haus

The government isn't the only entity responsible for shaping the new Berlin. On a smaller but similarly progressive scale, architects Matthew Griffin and Britta Jürgens, known as the architectural firm Deadline, have transformed an unremarkable building from the late 19th century into a streamlined sanctuary for themselves and guests of Miniloftmitte – four apartments that operate as a sort of alternative hotel run by the couple. The project, called Slender (the building is only five meters wide) is located in Mitte, the historic city center that once fell on the "wrong side" of the famous Berlin Wall.

Since the wall's destruction in 1989, cranes have dotted the neighborhood's skyline as enormous corporate and federal building projects have transformed the area; meanwhile, grassroots subcultures have emerged. The atmosphere attracted the young couple, who with some friends opened an architectural gallery space called Urban Issue in 1997. As Griffin recounts, "It was always our fundamental belief to take action on the levels you can rather than to speculate or discuss change." The gallery closed in 1999 when its lease ended, and the pair turned their attention to Slender, their children, and new projects, but not without their having learned a great deal first. "Often the peripheral economic and legal structures surrounding a project determine the outcome," says Griffin. "We knew that to create an extraordinary building, we needed to create the right framework first.' With success apparent in the results, Dwell sat down to discuss renovating a street corner of the former Eastern bloc.

Berlin: Cool Haus, published in Dwell, May 2003 (pp. 50–52)


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