Signal Box Northern Station, Berlin, Germany

Switching points.
Although the client was able to jot down a first visualisation of the prospective new means of use on a beer mat, the full story of the historic signal box at the Northern Station in Berlin -Mitte is a lot more elaborate. Having been built in 1932, the signal box controlled Berlin’s railway system for many years – until it was overtaken by world history, which left it high and dry on a strip of land separating East and West Berlin, alongside the Berlin Wall. There it remained for decades – until a creative investor recognised its potential and reset the points for this architectural gem.

This was once Berlin’s signal control centre, but buildings of this kind are becoming extinct. That makes its preservation all the more commendable and historically important. The architect of the Signal Box at the Northern Station (NOA) was Richard Brademann. Between 1922 and 1939, he designed a number of buildings for Berlin’s suburban railway system, leaving his distinctive mark on them: a clearcut, matter-of-fact, functional style in shape and proportion. His red brick structures gave Berlin’s surge towards modernity a distinctive urbanistic face and had a defining influence on the look of Berlin’s suburban railway network up until the war.

Tradition und modernity.
Having been reopened in the autumn of 2012, the old Signal Box is today a site with a rich history and home to an international academy for marketing, communication, advertising and media management. Here, the past and the future blend together uniquely. An attractive new building has been constructed, harmoniously integrating the old gantry-style signal tower. The four-storey building is both a residential and an office building, with an academic area including a lecture theatre, seminar rooms and various administrative and functional spaces.

The historic signal box is the entrance hall of the new building. It opens up to visitors as a multi-storey foyer suffused with light. A stylish symbiosis of steel, glass, concrete and red brick. The luxuriant, high-quality design and look are perfectly complemented by the decorative floor PANDOMO® FloorPlus, by ARDEX, installed over more than 300 square metres virtually without any joints. The grey colour of the floor was exactly matched to the historic fabric of the building. The slight cloudiness of the surface, produced by a special trowelling technique, makes it distinctive and gives it its own signature. An opalescent, silky sheen lends it the desired high-class look. The result: architecture of convincing intensity and rigour.