Railway stations are special places, places where people bid each other farewell and where they meet again, places of intense personal contact in our mobile world. However, many railway stations, including the former Ostbahnhof in East Berlin, can appear defyingly cold and disorientating. Our task was to modernise it in true 21st century style. The building, which had been converted during the GDR regime, used to be dark, opaque and confusing. Without interrupting the train services at this station we had it gutted right down to its supporting structures and transformed it into a bright place of urban mobility.
Our intention was to turn it into a clearly structured, light and visitor-friendly railway station, into a contemporary building for public transport meeting urban and economical criteria alike. The aim was to facilitate orientation within the station concourse and to rediscover the poetic dimension of natural light. Recalling the pioneering times of railway transport, this station should once more become a symbol of change and progress.
The generous entrance area is marked by a wide transparent cantilevered roof. An all-glass façade demonstratively opens the station up towards the city in the manner of a huge shop display window. It allows for natural light to be guided well inside the interior where a number of modern shops and offices, built in an area of approximately 20.000 square metres, frames the entrance hall. Escalators, galleries and information pavilions are dynamically displayed, softly bathed in filtered daylight which shines through a seemingly weightless roof made of steel and glass. Thus, the Ostbahnhof has been re-integrated into the city as a visually attractive opening episode to journey into the metropolis.