The conversion 

Following the decision by the German Bundestag to move the seat of government to Berlin, the Federal Government, in close consultation with the Berlin Senate, decided in 1995 to make the Haus am Werderschen Markt the Head Office of the Federal Foreign Office. Initial plans to construct a new building were shelved for reasons of cost.

In the course of the necessary renovation works, Berlin architect Hans Kollhoff, who was commissioned as general planner, faced the challenge of achieving a critical distance from earlier usages of the building without completely blotting out this history. In order to achieve this, Kollhoff decided to retain the structure and outer appearance of the building. In close cooperation with the authorities for heritage conservation, selected rooms and sections of the building dating from the 1930s, 50s and 70s were preserved.

The floor plan and interior design were conceived with the needs of the Federal Foreign Office fully in mind and geared towards modern office and communication standards. Windows and skylights that had been bricked over when the building was used by the Central Committee of the GDR were reopened in order to allow more natural light to permeate offices and conference areas.

In close cooperation with the artist Gerhard Merz, Kollhoff developed an art concept integrated into the conversion, lending the building renewed freshness and colour through the use of predominantly monochrome surfaces in important parts of the building. Alongside their individual impact as works of art, Kollhoff considered these ceiling and wall designs to be an artistic treatment of the two former functions that the building performed.

The Extension

The Extension

Bild vergrößern
The Extension

The Extension

The Extension

The extension 

When the competition for the extension – which was necessary on account of a lack of space – was announced in 1995, a strong emphasis was placed on an architectural style that opened up to the city. The building needed to take the prominent historical context into account while at the same time making its own contribution to the urban development of central Berlin.

In the opinion of the Federal Foreign Office, the design by young architects Thomas Müller and Ivan Reimann, which came second place, was the one that best reflected these requirements. As a uniform cubic building broken up by three atriums, it fulfils both the functional requirements of the Federal Foreign Office and the express desire for openness. It complements the adjacent old building well as it adopts the latter's heights and lines. The choice of architectural materials and forms (including atriums and glass façades) compensates for the old building's serious appearance and creates a convincing overall impression with transparency and lightness.

Energy-saving concept 

A building-specific energy-saving concept was developed for the new Federal Foreign Office in cooperation with the Technische Universität Berlin and the Gesellschaft für Ökologisches Bauen. Electricity and heating consumption were minimised and the energy supply geared towards environmental criteria. Further energy-saving measures were implemented through energy contracting in 2012.

Key measures to achieve these aims include the following:

  • Limiting heating consumption with a thermal insulation system in the old building
  • The absorption cooling units installed in 2000 were replaced by highly efficient turbo machines in 2012 and 2017.
  • Single-room control systems were installed in 860 offices in the old building in 2012. These help to reduce energy consumption.
  • Solar panels have been operated on the roof of the extension since 2000. The electricity these produce meets the energy needs of the Federal Foreign Office’s kindergarten.
  • A solar thermal system was also set up on the roof of the extension. This preheats the air for the ventilation units in winter. 

Building information

Old building
ArchitectsProf. Hans KollhoffThomas Müller und Ivan Reimann
Constrution period
August 1996 – December 1999October 1997 – November 1999
Construction costs288 million Deutschmark
(construction within budget)
168 million Deutschmark
(construction within budget)
Gross floor area
130.000 m²50.800 m²
Main usable area
43.000 m219.745 m²
Number of offices
96approx. 700
Number of employees
- Basement
Underground garage, Political Archive, Landeszentralbank Berlin Brandenburg
Underground garage
- Ground floor /
   First floor
Conference centre, press briefing aerea, offices
Atrium, Visitor Centre, café, visitor reception, library
- Upper floors
Minister's corridor and Political Dierctorates-General, European Directorate-General, Economic Directorate-General, administration
Health Service, Directorates-Genrals for Legal and Consular affairs, Culture, the United Nations, administration
IT data cables
approx. 80 km

Last updated 09.03.2006

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