International practice of OMA has completed the first quadrant of its masterplan for Berlin’s megastore, Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), which aims to align the store’s shopping experience with the 21st century. Touted as the biggest department store in continental Europe, KaDeWe can be seen as a city within a city, belonging to the rare breed of historical European urban department stores such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Selfridges in London, and La Rinascente in Milan.
Opened in 1907, the store is a historically significant place whose story is intertwined with Germany’s modern history. Facing challenges of accelerating global shifts and digital revolution, the masterplan proposal by OMA aims to redefine the relationship between the department store, its patrons and the city.
OMA defines their intervention as tactical, and Ellen van Loon, Partner at OMA, had this to say, “The renovation of KaDeWe aims to redefine the dynamics between retail space, its patrons, and the urban environment, in a time when e-commerce is reshaping our relation with in-person shopping. The project reinterprets the fundamental elements of a typology that has remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years.”
OMA’s proposal introduces four distinct quadrants responding to a different city street, breaking the single large store into four smaller volumes, aimed at different audiences: classic, experimental, young, and generic. Arranged around its core void, the quadrants are designed to act as an atrium and a primary vertical circulation space.
Describing their process as curating rather than designing, the four quadrants are distinct, providing four different spatial experiences. The void transforms in size, avoiding repetition and making every floor unique.
The first phase of KaDeWe is located on the corner of the Tauentzienstraße and Passauer Straße. Acting as the natural extension of the Tauentzienstraße main entrance, the concentric void spanning six floors, is fitted with a series of wood-clad escalators. The space is designed to serve retail and event spaces, addressing the accelerating shift in consumer behaviour and the changing nature of traditional department stores. The design intervention also adds a new two-storey-high shop window for digital and analogue presentations at the street intersection to engage the passers-by.
Project: KaDeWe Berlin
Client: KaDeWe Group
Location: Berlin, Germany
Site: Berlin, Tauentzienstraße
Program: Renovation 90.000 m² department store
Partner: Ellen van Loon, Rem Koolhaas
Team: Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Alex de Jong, Natalie Konopelski. Giacomo Ardesio, Sandra Bsat, Laurence Bolhaar, Janna Bystrykh, Paul Cournet, Alessandro De Santis, Alice Gregoire, Luis Guzman Grossberger, Sacha Hickinbotham, Piotr Janus, Aleksandar Joksimovic, Francesca Lantieri, Barbara Materia, Romea Muryn, Miguel Taborda, Salome Nikuradze, Rita L. Álvarez-Tabío Togores, Felix Perasso, Mariano Sagasta, Iason Stathatos, Tom Xia, Weronika Zaborek
Management: SMV Bauprojektsteuerung Ingenieursgesellschaft mbH
Structural Engineer: IBK Ing.-Büro für Tragwerksplanung
Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineers: IBT Ingenieurbüro Trache
Local Architects: Architekturbüro Udo Landgraf, Heine Architekten Partnerschaft mbB, AUKETT+HEESE GmbH
Lighting: Sekles Planungsbuero
Escalators: HUNDT CONSULT GmbH, Geyssel Fahrtreppen GmbH
Resin panels: Sabine Marcelis Studio
Ellen van Loon joined OMA in 1998 and has led award-winning building projects that combine sophisticated design with precise execution.
Recently completed projects led by Ellen include the Bvlgari Fine Jewelry Show (2021), Brighton College (2020), BLOX / DAC in Copenhagen (2018), Rijnstraat 8 in The Hague (2017), and Lab City CentraleSupélec (2017).
Other projects in her portfolio include Fondation Galeries Lafayette (2018) in Paris; Qatar National Library (2017); Amsterdam’s G-Star Raw Headquarters (2014); De Rotterdam, the largest building in the Netherlands (2013); CCTV Headquarters in Beijing (2012); New Court Rothschild Bank in London (2011); Maggie's Centre in Glasgow (2011); Casa da Musica in Porto (2005) – winner of the 2007 RIBA Award; and the Dutch Embassy in Berlin (2003) – winner of the European Union Mies van der Rohe Award in 2005.
Ellen is currently working on The Factory Manchester – a large performing arts venue for the city; Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) Berlin – Europe’s biggest department store – and KaDeWe Vienna; and the Palais de Justice de Lille.