Cube, the iconic, sculptural building designed by the 3XN studio, stands like a gem in Washingtonplatz, one of the important new public spaces in Berlin and an integral part of the Europacity masterplan, an increasingly important urban district in front of the city’s main railway station.
Dedicated to the first American president in 1932, after the second world war and the division of Berlin, the square became a dilapidated wasteland. Several decades later, construction work began on Berlin’s central railway station, a building without any particular architectural qualities and located in an urban space characterised by flat grey colours. Washingtonplatz, therefore, needed something special, even something incongruous, that would give the square some character. This was the 3XN studio’s main aim when they designed their sculptural cube with its glass façades and light projections.
Cube Berlin features 10 floors of versatile office space with a food market on the ground floor, an underground car park, utility rooms, a terrace on the roof and optional conference areas that, together, cover a total floorspace of 19,500 m².
The building brings colour and movement to the central vacuum of the grey square. Its reflective, double-glazed façades, shaped in a prism style of triangular surfaces, transform the Cube geometrically and modify its appearance depending on the natural light dynamic and the observer’s viewpoint. At night, passers-by can also enjoy the construction’s original lighting design. The lighting concept is based on the idea of reflecting the façade onto the square. The triangles that break up the volume of the building therefore become light projections on the paving around the Cube and promote a sense of interaction between the structure and the people frequenting the area.
This effect has been created with Palco InOut Framers installed on the metal framework of the Cube, at ground floor level. These luminaires project different sized lighting surfaces, so the sum of the projections create the required triangular shapes. Numerous calculations and on-site tests were made, and the right effect was obtained by putting together a series of rectangles and triangles of light, projected by the Palco InOut Framers. These luminaires become smaller and smaller and are perfectly aligned to obtain the light effect required at ground level. The slight overlapping of the rectangles and triangles projected on the ground creates clear light lines between one figure and the next that have the effect of “erasing” the shadows of the people walking in the area. Washingtonplatz has therefore lost a little of its greyness and turns it, not only into a transit area, but also a very pleasant place to spend time in.
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