The former machine shop in the hall serves as atelier space and gallery now. Together with the historic dark tiles the new asphalt flooring establishes a clearly defined horizontal space for the artists´ mainly three dimensional work, contrasting the vertical windows opening the hall towards the mature chestnut trees surrounding the building.
Wenk and Wiese Architects renovated this old Water Pumping Plant that is located in Berlin, Germany for berlin based artists Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset. The methodology for the conversion approaches the existing building in an analogical manner, the intention was to perpetuate the building´s original design according to the new use and contemporary perception.
The building was erected 1925/26 as an extension to the first pumping station in Berlin´s Neukoelln district (then called Rixdorf) dating from 1893. In 1993 new facilities were built on the adjoining premises and the old pumping station was decommissioned. Subsequently most of the machinery that had already been replaced in the 1950s was dismantled, only an old air vessel was retained as a relic from times of steam-powered technology. In 1989 the former pumping station was placed under preservation order.
In more then 13 years following the closedown it was not possible to find a use for the building, mainly because of it´s location, the exceptional size of the hall and the lack of a second escape route for the upper storeys. There had been a surevy commissioned by the preservation authorities in 2002 that included major concessions such as new staircases within the hall and big dormers on the roof, but still no one could be found to buy it. It was only in early 2006, when berlin based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset caught sight of the house through an online real estate service and spontaneously decided to make it their new headquarters.
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Photographs: Udo Meinel & Nils Wenk