First Phase of OMA's KaDeWe Renovation Opens in Berlin

John Hill
8. October 2021
Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA

The first of four quadrants masterplanned by OMA - Office for Metropolitan Architecture for Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), the largest department store in continental Europe, has opened its doors.

OMA's project to renovate KaDeWe was unveiled in January 2016, with a masterplan that divided the iconic store into four quadrants, each one given a distinct circulation core that would improve circulation in the building. Our coverage at the time of unveiling was highlighted by a rendering of an escalator core, with each escalator rotating a few degrees relative to the one below it and each circular opening growing progressively larger. That quadrant, it appears, is the first to reach completion. 

Model diagramming the four quadrants, with the completed escalator quadrant at top-right. (Image: Courtesy of OMA)
A new two-story-high "shop window for digital and analogue presentations" has been added at the corner of Tauentzienstraße and Passauer Straße. (Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA)

"Rather than treating the existing building as a singular mass," OMA said in a statement, "the project introduces four quadrants which fragment the original mass into smaller, easily accessible and navigable sectors. With this project, OMA and KaDeWe address the accelerating shifts in consumer behavior and the challenges brought by online retail that are affecting the traditional department store."

Each quadrant is being designed with "different architectural and commercial qualities" as well as the unique cores. (Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA)
The escalator core in the first quadrant is elevated beyond typical department store escalators by its wood cladding. (Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA)

Rem Koolhaas and Ellen van Loon are the lead OMA partners on the project. Van Loon, who is also undertaking the design of a new store for KaDeWe in Vienna, said in a statement: "The renovation of the KaDeWe aims to redefine the dynamics between retail space, its patrons, and the urban environment, in a time when e-commerce is reshaping our relation with in-person shopping. The project reinterprets the fundamental elements of a typology that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years."

Wood wraps the underside of each escalator as well. (Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA)
A fashion show on escalators! Not a surprise coming from a firm that annually stages the Prada catwalk shows. (Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy of OMA)

Related articles

Other articles in this category