Every state, every region and every city is different. And so is every building. That’s why we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to modernisation. We focus on the architectural detail and always have the aim of improving energy efficiency in mind. There are many different examples…
Getting the green light
Climate action in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district
The Otto Suhr Estate in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district is one of the biggest post-war rebuilding projects in West Berlin. The estate, named after Berlin’s former Governing Mayor, took a whole seven years to build. In 2015, work began on making Deutsche Wohnen’s portfolio in the Otto Suhr Estate fit for the future. This involved work on around 1,678 residential units and eight commercial units. Our to-do list was almost as long as the number of apartments: the agenda for modernisation and construction included refurbishing the windows, refurbishing building entrances and stairwells, and installing heat insulation in the facades and ceilings on the upper and basement levels. Instead of using simple metal railings, we kept the old brickwork that gives the estate its unique look. Bricks that were no longer fit for purpose were replaced with specially made stones to match the original colour. A roof extension permitted the construction of 28 additional apartments with a wood panelled design. “Due to the size of the estate, the energy upgrade to the building shell helped us make huge energy savings, and by building new apartments, we are also making a contribution to our city,” says technical project manager Max Roda. Most of the work was completed in 2020. Work on the outdoor spaces will take place in 2021.
Closing the gap on Berlin’s Topsstraße
Topsstraße in the Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg takes its unusual name from Hermann Tops, a communist and anti-Nazi resistance fighter executed under the Third Reich. On the corner of the famous Schönhauserallee, in what is known as a neighbourhood preservation area, you’ll find three Deutsche Wohnen blocks dating back to 1937. Over the past two years, the 202 apartments have been modernised in line with official specifications. The works included basement ceiling insulation and refurbishment of balconies, facades, windows, stairwells and roofs. The bathrooms and building technology also underwent renovation. “Our main priorities were the sustainable switch from furnace to district heating and refurbishing the historic double windows,” explains technical project manager Armin Schulz. One of the special measures involved in the project included a new construction with four residential units. This finally closes the gap in the complex which was made by the destruction of the building’s original staircase during the war.
“Our main priorities were the sustainable switch from furnace to district heating and refurbishing the historic double windows”
Based on a historic template: Rudolfplatz in Brunswick
In the north-west of Brunswick – right on Rudolfplatz – you will find a Deutsche Wohnen neighbourhood. It makes a strong visual impact on this key junction in the city’s Westliches Ringgebiet. The buildings in the neighbourhood date from different periods and are being upgraded in several stages over the next few years. The first stage of the works focuses on the four-storey buildings dating from the 1920s. The aim is to preserve the unique architecture of the period while improving tenants’ quality of life. “We’re refurbishing the facade, installing wooden lattice windows, re-covering the roofs and completely overhauling the building entrances and stairwells. We’re following the historic template, for instance, in the colours of the facade and the wooden doors, to help give the building a new lease of life,” says Andrea Ortmann, who’s in charge of work on the site. A restoration survey and old images were used as inspiration. Fire safety measures and an upgrade to the outdoor spaces are also planned.
Berlin-Weißensee – old meets new
“All of it, please!” says technical project manager Jendrik Kruse, when asked what work was to be done in Deutsche Wohnen’s buildings in Weißensee. Not only was the facade insulation system replaced – virtually the entire building technology got an upgrade. The bathrooms in every apartment were also completely renovated. Building entrances and stairwells were overhauled with a colour scheme adapted to the new facade. Care was taken to ensure the building blended in with the surrounding listed buildings. The historic double windows were kept and refurbished to preserve the 1930s period charm. As well as this extensive work on the portfolio, fifty new apartments were built with terraces or loggias as an attic storey extension. “This has helped us create urgently-needed living space in Berlin,” says Jendrik Kruse. “The carbon footprint of the 337 existing residential units was also reduced by 68 %.”
“Extensive modernisation work is sometimes very challenging, but the result is always worth it.”