FAQ

WHAT'S PLANNED?

A lively place where everyone is welcome – that is our vision for a new Karstadt on Hermannplatz. With this project we are not only planning a new Karstadt on Hermannplatz – our vision is holistic and is divided into four areas:

The fragment (built in 1929)

The historical fragment is the only original structure of the original building. We want to renovate and modernise this part in accordance with the preservation order and fully dedicate it to the common good. Intended uses are directed at associations, initiatives, families, educational and social institutions and medical practices.

The old building (built in 1911)

This building on the Hasenheide plays an important role. Through appropriate renovation and modernization, 1500 m2 will be created for new affordable housing in non-profit organisation.

Rear area

We would like to develop the area behind the Karstadt building between Hasenheide and Urbanstraße collaboratively through a public ideas competition. Our proposal is a typical Berlin mix of business, mobility and green zones. Your ideas are highly welcomed!

Karstadt on Hermannplatz

The focus of the project is naturally the department store as an important local supplier, which will be rebuilt in the original style of the historic building. With the department store, offices and a public roof terrace for catering, art and culture, it should once again become an attractive center of social life in the neighbourhood.

What is the aim of the project? Who is the offer addressed to?

We would like to give the city and the people back what the building once was for the neighbourhood: a place where people enjoyed meeting up and hanging out, shopping, going out for a meal or having a coffee – a lively place for everyone! The mixed-use property should primarily serve the interests and needs of the Kreuzberg and Neukölln residents.

We want to talk to the residents, local businesses and all interested parties to fully involve them in the concept and to achieve a lively implementation of the Berlin Guidelines for Citizen Participation.

WHAT ARE THE INTENDED USES?

Our aim is to create a new Karstadt on Hermannplatz, which is embedded in a socially vibrant environment and will once again become an attractive place for residents and visitors.

  • A 3,500 m2 public roof terrace with gastronomy, arts & culture invites you to relax and offers a magnificent view over Kreuzberg and Neukölln.
  • In the historical fragment from 1929, the only part of the building that has been preserved in its original state, we intend to create 3,600 m2 of new space for the common good, i.e. for associations, initiatives, families, education, social services and doctors.
  • In the old building from 1911, we are creating 1500 m2 for new affordable flats in a non-profit organisation.
  • With the new building, we are securing existing jobs and creating at least 2,000 additional new jobs.
  • Through the creation of 600 new bicycle parking spaces, we are also supporting the goals of the traffic transformation in Berlin and taking the first steps towards a comprehensive mobility concept.
  • In the area behind the Karstadt building (now a car park), we would like to give form to a balanced Berlin mix of uses (including commerce, mobility and green spaces) using a public ideas competition.

Why was the historical architecture chosen?

Currently, the Karstadt building presents inconspicuous department store architecture without any quality of experience. With the historical model, we are using the unique opportunity to give the city back a piece of its identity. Despite its destruction, the original department store has had a lasting effect on the city. Even today, the absence of the striking facade on Hermannplatz is still noticeable. The post-war buildings were never able to close this gap, although they too have always attempted to emulate the original building in style and structure. The old design was a presence that has inscribed itself in the building, but more importantly in the collective memory of the place.

The quality of the historic building is based on the iconographic architectural language, created through the use of high-quality materials and the conscious use of light and space. The department store impressively demonstrates that the staging of light, space, materials and craftsmanship is just as relevant today as it was over a hundred years ago. The building is flooded with daylight through the three atriums, thus enabling a variety of uses. The vertical structuring of the façade also offers optimal planning of the floor heights, to ensure flexible uses in the long term, as extensive conversion work is no longer necessary.

Dealing with the history of the site is an important prerequisite for dealing with the original stock. The approach of David Chipperfield Architects is to restore the urban volume and primary architectural structure. This approach pays tribute to the historical monument and recognises both its destruction and subsequent rediscovery as important aspects of its history.

WILL A SHOPPING MALL BE BUILT ON HERMANNPLATZ?

No. There will neither be a »shopping mall« nor an accumulation of retail chains on Hermannplatz. This concept is not contemporary and does not meet the needs of the residents. In general, the existing retail offer will not change. Furthermore, the local supply of Karstadt and local services will remain a central component.

WHAT HAPPENS TO KARSTADT AND ITS EMPLOYEES?

Our goal is to secure the jobs of Karstadt employees during the period of the restructuring and to offer them suitable transitional solutions. We are already in talks with the works council to this end. Karstadt is to remain a central component of the building after the conversion and will be strengthened. Additional commercial space is to bring 2,000 new jobs to the neighborhood.

WHAT EFFECTS DOES THE PROJECT HAVE ON THE NEIGHBOURHOOD?

The only major changes in the neighborhood will be in the appearance of the building and the expanded product range. Local supply, retail, and especially Karstadt will remain central components of Hermannplatz. There are no plans for an increase in retail space. With this project, we want to provide urgently needed space for social and cultural institutions, as well as subsidized housing. Various public uses are intended to create a center of attraction for the residents and visitors in the neighbourhood. In addition, there is an opportunity for residents, society and politics to develop Hermannplatz into a traffic-calmed city square with a high quality of stay, thus contributing to a sustainable change of mobility in Berlin, which we support.

WOULDN'T AN ENERGETIC REFURBISHMENT MAKE MORE SENSE FROM AN ECOLOGICAL STANDPOINT?

Today’s Karstadt building has an unreasonably high energy requirement and, like many buildings of its time, is polluted. Only by demolishing the department store building will we be able to implement a modern and sustainable energy concept. This concept starts with the demolition of the building but will maximise the preservation and recycling potential, thereby achieving LEED Platinum sustainability certification for the new building. The demolished concrete mass is to be reused to the maximum extent in the new building. The historical fragment, the Wilhelminian style old building, and the foundation will not be demolished.

As of now, the Karstadt building generates more than twice as much CO2 annually as the planned new building. In addition to the energy that will be consumed once for the purpose of demolition and new construction (grey energy), the total energy balance of the new building will have paid for itself after only 10 years.

HOW WAS COMPLYING WITH PRESERVATION ORDERS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN THE PLANNING?

To comply with preservation orders is very important to us. With David Chipperfield Architects, we were able to win over an architect’s office for the project that has a great deal of experience in the field of historic preservation and chooses a very careful approach.

The building from 1929 on the corner of Hermannplatz and Hasenheide will be retained and integrated into the new building in line with the original historic building.

We are in ongoing coordination with the monument protection authority at district level, and with the state monument office at state level. After several working meetings at the end of 2019, we have reached a fundamental agreement with the State Office for Monument Protection on how to deal with the monument: the historical fragment will be preserved and the current department store on Hermannplatz will be demolished, to allow for the new historical building to be constructed.

HOW WILL THE PROJECT INFLUENCE THE TRAFFIC SITUATION ON HERMANNPLATZ?

With our vision for a sustainable Karstadt on Hermannplatz, we have presented the future-oriented mobility concept »Hermann & Henriette«  as an offer and inspiration for residents, society and politics in a holistic approach.

The aim is to increase the quality of life and stay around the square. The concept proposes a car-free square where walking, cycling and public transport are the main focus, while parking and logistics areas are moved to underground levels. Sharing services will also become a central component of the concept. Karstadt on Hermannplatz, for example, is to become a prime example of Berlin’s traffic turnaround.

We have already taken the first steps with the establishment of a bicycle street, a bicycle service station and parking spaces for freight bikes.

During the construction phase, the size of the building site allows us to use efficient construction site logistics that minimise the impact on the neighbourhood and the traffic situation. We are in a constructive exchange with the BVG, among others, on this issue.

WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE PROJECT AND WHAT IS PLANNED?

At the beginning of 2019, we started a close dialogue with residents, local businesses and visitors which we now want to continue via this website, by e-mail, through our social media channels or directly on site. In the future, we will support a comprehensive citizen participation process in which residents can actively contribute to shaping the project. For such a procedure we need the support of the district of Kreuzberg. SIGNA, as the company responsible for the project, would like to encourage all residents to take part in such a process – as it offers a unique opportunity to actively shape a significant part of their neighbourhood.

WHO FINANCES AND OPERATES THIS PROJECT?

SIGNA is the owner of the retail company Karstadt and the building on Hermannplatz. The company has set itself the goal of making Karstadt on Hermannplatz sustainable while turning the building into a lively space for the neighbourhood. The company has the necessary expertise to achieve this undertaking, as it develops and manages a comprehensive portfolio of real estate projects in the DACH region and Italy.

How can I participate in the project?

Every interested citizen has the opportunity to get in touch with the project team: We are available for open discussion via social media, on FacebookTwitter or Instagram by E-Mail or on-site.

SIGNA welcomes the »Guidelines for Citizen Participation« published by the Senate. These guidelines clearly state that participation should not be organised by the project promoter alone. For this reason, SIGNA does not organise the participation itself but invites the districts from the very beginning to actively partake in the participation process.

What effects does the Corona Crisis have on the project?

The Corona Crisis was and is an exceptional situation for all of us. It has also highlighted the importance of a central local supplier like Karstadt on Hermannplatz for the people in the neighbourhood.

We are sticking to our plans and offers with which we want to turn Karstadt on Hermannplatz back into a competitive department store.