With its large parks and extensive forest and meadow landscapes, the area around the Griebnitzsee belongs to Potsdam’s impressive landscape of palaces and castles. As early as the 19th century many people from Berlin were drawn to the area surrounding the former royal seat, where they built villas in Italian and classical styles along the lakes and waterways, and founded the mansion colony Neubablelsberg. This combination of established historical buildings built between the late 17th and early 20th centuries and the landscape, which is diverse and has been greatly transformed by both its early and later residents, was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1990.
The striking cubature of the new building divides the property into a narrow front garden near the street and a wider back garden facing the lake. With the exception of the maisonette on the ground-and first floors, all entrances to the building are located on either the northwest or southeast sides. Access to these entrances is via steps and linear pathways along the sides, one of which also leads to the lowest terrace at the water’s edge. The linear path to the southeast runs across the entire property from north to south, connecting a series of generous terraces. The pathway on the northwest side of the building begins at the driveway, runs along the side of the building, and breaks up as it approaches the lake, where a separate flight of steps built into a steep slope appears to sculpturally free itself of the path. The area of the garden between the building and the street contains a compact and formally designed area, as well as the drive way and entrances to the building. The area between the building and the lake is more natural in character due to the reserved structure of its landscape. Because of the nearly five-metre difference in elevation between the street and the edge of the water, the site drops from the southwest to the northeast in strongly contained and contoured waves that run parallel to the building.
Two themes strongly influence the garden and differentiate it according to the intensity of use and the wish for different spatial effects. The entire building is surrounded by a band of light-coloured limestone gravel except for the southwest corner, which is covered by colour-matched pea gravel. The paths to the entrances run parallel to the gravel strips on the northwest and southeast sides of the building. The southeastern path is made of light-coloured precast concrete pavers and connects the concrete-lined oak-planked terraces that stretch out opposite entrances to the building. The ends of these terraces are marked by subtly-underlit concrete seating elements. In the front garden, which is covered in compacted crushed stone, a sunken garden 40 centimetres lower than the adjacent area has been created for residents. The irrigated raised beds are surrounded by low, painted steel walls that harmonise with both the material used on the building’s façade and the fence made of individual angled slats. Because both the base of the building and that of the fence, as well as the sunken beds all have the same height, people in the sunken garden find themselves surrounded by lush vegetation. This highly structured garden space, although small, is turned into a verdant garden by the tall rose bushes and ornamental grasses growing in the beds. It forms a strong contrast to the naturally designed part of the garden near the banks of the lake. The area along the water and the slope leading down to it have been planted in a diverse and ecologically valuable mixture of Dechampsia and Molinia moor grasses.
The materials used are mainly derived from the architecture and colours of the building. In addition to light-coloured limestone gravel, travertine pavers, and painted, anthracite-coloured steel elements for the fence, raised beds, and rubbish containers, the use of white precast concrete and oak planks that turn grey as they weather provide a harmonious balance. The contrast between light- and dark-coloured materials can also be found in the use of surface finishes ranging from smooth to course to extremely rough. The high quality of the smooth, light-coloured precast concrete elements forms a strong contrast to the vitality of the oak planks and the roughness of the course limestone gravel.
Area: 1.600 square meters