For almost three decades, the construction of high rise residential towers over 60 meters tall has vanished as a typology in German cities. It seems that despite the option of more modern alternatives, a preference for double story detached living and "Wilhelminian" style turn of the century condominiums remains. In contrast, the development of high-rise residential living has proven both successful and popular in many of the world‘s cities synonymous with emerging markets, such as China. A demand for suitable accommodation that provides for growing population, coupled by a limited availability of freehold land in densely populated countries, has lead to a necessity and increase in vertical living in Asia.
Presently in Berlin, high-rise residential buildings are being considered as an approach by which to attract a high-end clientele. Developers are able to capitalize upon the stability of Germany’s political and economic climate by providing an opportunity for investors to purchase their 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th homes amongst relatively low risk market conditions. Commonly planned as serviced apartments, complete with a doorman, these residential models follow an international trend and demand at prime locations.
Originally the site of a cattle market that lies outside the city’s fortifications and the former urban center of East Berlin, Alexanderplatz locally referred to as "Alex," can be identified as one of these principal sites. 300,000 people pass through this vast square and traffic hub in the sought-after district of "Mitte" each day, making it one of the most frequented squares not only in Berlin, but throughout Europe. The existing “Alex” masterplan identifies several locations for the development of high-rise buildings, with one of these proposed sites positioned at the corner of Alexanderstrasse and Otto-Braun-Strasse.
The challenge of Hi(gh) Alex is to develop a program and design for this location, reopening the debate of how this site can be best utilized as a hi(gh)light for new ideas and sustainable solutions.