“The renovation of the Ernst Lück lingerie factory in the former GDR – in Potsdam, south-west of Berlin – is not a mere physical upgrade of the outer shell: it questions the mandatory standards in current building regulations by proposing a new understanding of architecture and the environment.” Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon.


The abandoned 500sqm building was not appealing for future investors due to the high demolition costs. In addition, a regulation states that any demolished building could only be rebuilt with 100 m2 of living space, 20% of the existing volume: demolition therefore would have caused a massive loss of energy in terms of both labor and material. The concept thus contains a number of selective measures that permit its new usage as a studio and a residential building.

The gable roof, which contained asbestos, was removed and replaced with a newly designed one. All non-load bearing partitions were removed and replaced with a central concrete core to support this new roof. The core, containing a bathroom, kitchen, and spaces for a sauna and fireplace, was inserted on the second floor. On the ground floor, the three spaces originally used for deliveries, storage, and garage were kept structurally the same. The new roof, constructed with a 2% slope and water-resistant concrete, is supported by the core and a continuous beam, which allows for up to five-meter-wide openings in the existing walls. The original window openings on the two long sides of the house were kept exactly the same. Inspired by Claude Faraldo’s experimental film, Themroc (1973), big holes were punched into the walls facing the lake and forest, replacing the existing windows on that facade, to gain maximum openness and exposure to the landscape. “To celebrate this, a mobile kitchen was set up and friends were invited to the construction site to collectively punch out holes for the windows.” The interior space is characterized by the monochromatic surfaces, the original brick structure, which had been plastered over with a fine grey mortar, was preserved in the new interior. Similarly, the exterior surface, originally constructed with rough plaster, was simply sealed using grey lime sludge. The traces of the old building therefore remain in its new iteration, visible in the varying shades of grey and textures.

Visit Brandlhuber+ Emde, Burlon page to know more about the project!


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Photo by Erica Overmeer

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