Barkow Leibinger,
architecture firm

An architectural landmark on the outskirts of Berlin

The Estrel Tower was designed by Barkow Leibinger, a Berlin-based architecture firm. Construction of the iconic landmark, which will be Berlin’s tallest skyscraper and Europe’s largest hotel, is set to be completed by the end of 2024. The new building will be located opposite the Estrel Berlin.

Seven years after winning the design competition to build the Estrel Tower, COVID-19 forced architecture firm Barkow Leibinger to adjust its plans. “During the pandemic, we made changes to the number of rooms and the functions of the spaces in the Tower,” says Regine Leibinger. “Besides hotel rooms, suites and an executive area, we’ve now incorporated 90 long-stay apartments into the design, as well as office spaces on floors three to eleven. This means that eight of the Tower’s 45 storeys are now exclusively for office use.” To ensure ceilings are high enough to accommodate this change, the architects had to eliminate a floor and design a more efficient ventilation and cooling system.

The Barkow Leibinger exterior design features aluminium fins encasing large glass surfaces. This aesthetic, which creates an illusion of added spatial depth, can be seen in earlier Barkow Leibinger projects, including their Monnet 4 office building in Europacity (Berlin). The industrially prefabricated fins have several functions. In addition to giving the Tower a dynamic shape, they visually tie together disparate architectural components to create a cohesive whole. The fins also serve as glare and heat protection, deter birds from flying into the building and provide anchor points for access systems.

“At a height of 176 metres, the Tower is a unique structure in matt-silver. We’re certain it will be regarded as one of southern Berlin’s architectural icons”, says American architect Frank Barkow. Barkow Leibinger’s conceptual approach was inspired by a children’s game called Tangram in which five triangles of various sizes, a square and a parallelogram are combined to form hundreds of geometric shapes. The Estrel Tower emerges as a striking, organic work of architecture in its own right, yet is part of an overall ensemble with a clear visual relationship to the existing hotel.

Regine Leibinger and Frank Barkow founded their American-German architecture firm in 1993 in Berlin. The company currently employs around 80 people, and its offices, which have its own model workshop, are located in a former industrial site in the Charlottenburg district. In recent years, the scope of Barkow Leibinger’s projects has ranged from public buildings and office buildings to residential and industrial interiors within existing buildings in Germany, America and Asia. Besides the Estrel Tower, Berlin-based projects include “Tour Total” near Berlin’s main train station and their current project: rebuilding the former Constanze Pressehaus at the An der Urania and Kurfürstenstraße intersection in the centre of former West Berlin.

Foto: © Corinne Rose