Making new from old: the transformation of Berlin Decks

More than 12 months have passed since BEOS began developing Berlin Decks, transforming the red brick building and vast cold storage hall into a modern business campus by 2023. While the brick structure will be retained, the hall, which is currently open for temporary use, will be replaced by a new multi-level building. With new courtyards, roof terraces and promenades, BEOS will open the site in stages to create a new zone that meets the work and leisure needs of today.


"What particularly fascinates me about the site is its living history - it’s seen more than 100 years of living, working and designing," says Tony Paumer, who is assisting with the transformation of the site. Ensuring that this history remains visible is a key focus of the construction and modernization project. "The building benefits from its old, generously-proportioned architecture - the high ceilings, large windows and the amazing masonry facade. Our task is to make the building sustainable and fit for the future." Accordingly, the building was completely gutted and new insulation plaster installed. The old windows have been removed and modern wood-aluminium models put in their place, while the oil-fired heating system has given way to biomass district heating.

If the walls at Berlin Decks could talk, what would they say? As it happens, the renovation team did come across an old safe: "But unfortunately, no material treasures were found," says Paumer with a laugh. "We were able to recover wartime documents, which we turned over to the Berlin Museum of Industry."


Structural elements like the chimneys and parts of the facade have been preserved wherever possible. For the parts that were no longer fit for purpose, Paumer and his team sought to reuse materials, including wall elements and lights from the old hall which are to be rehoused in the new building. The historic building’s former grandeur has been revived, not least in the modernized fireplace room, which provides business tenants an impressive setting for their meetings.

The building’s age has brought challenges, the greatest being to understand and manage its structural engineering without planning documents. Investigations confirmed how the nearby Torfstraße (“peat street”) got its name: the site sits on peaty soil which needs to be compacted before construction. Higher up, the building’s roof will be rebuilt with new insulation and will be serviced by a lift. Changes and additions can also be carried out according to tenant needs.


"Industrial sites have a rather rough image generally," says Paumer. "But the canal and the surrounding greenery combined with the urban landscape make Berlin Decks an exception." The waterfront location of the property and its proximity to the shops and cafes of Sprengelkiez make it particularly attractive. "Spend a few lunch breaks there and you realize just how lively and liveable the area is."