Sustainable Urban Living In Olympic Proportions

Germany has seen its fair share of Olympic heroes reach the podium, especially its sports-obsessed eastern half during the Cold War. Now, in a region of the former East Berlin, the unified city is building a mixed-use complex called “The:Square 3” that mimics the three-tiered medal stand right next to Sportforum Berlin, the country’s largest Olympic training facility.

To drive home the Olympics connection, subtle gold, silver and bronze tints will be added to the three main towers of the project. A common color for all parts of the project, however, will be green, with ample amounts of vegetation included in the common areas, on the roofs and even up the angled sides of the towers in some places.

With subtle gold, silver and bronze tints, the Square 3 towers echo their Olympic Training Facility neighbors. Image via Moritz Gruppe.

With subtle gold, silver and bronze tints, the Square 3 towers echo their Olympic Training Facility neighbors. Image via Moritz Gruppe.

Designed by developer Moritz Gruppe and architecture firm LAVA, the three towers of The:Square 3 will be joined by three other low-rise, diagonally shaped city blocks that will each contain wide central courtyards with lush greenery and green roofs.

In the residential blocks next to the towers, the designers included several open green spaces. Image via Moritz Gruppe.

In the residential blocks next to the towers, the designers included several open green spaces. Image via Moritz Gruppe.

The entire complex, expected to be completed by 2016, will include apartments, retail space, a kindergarten, social services, offices for sports companies, a medical research center, a hotel catering specifically for athletes and a shopping mall — all encircling a green piazza. In addition, the site will be near Europe’s largest urban nature reserve, with several scenic lakes and critical wildlife habitat.

The Square 3 buildings integrate closely with the adjacent sports training fields. Image via Moritz Gruppe.

The Square 3 buildings integrate closely with the adjacent sports training fields. Image via Moritz Gruppe.

The towers, Moritz Gruppe says, will be situated and tapered to maximize the amount of daylight and ventilation, helping to reduce energy costs. In some spots along the base of the towers, diagonal cuts in the outlines of the buildings will form triangular green walls full of cascading shrubs and other hanging plants. Solar energy will also be absorbed through photovoltaic cells embedded within its outer skin, and rainwater around the site will be collected and reused around the grounds.

Located about nine minutes from the bustling Alexanderplatz, the cultural heart of Berlin, The:Square 3 will be built in the Alt-Hohenschönhausen area, once infamous for being the site of a large prison complex run by the Stasi, the secret police force of East Germany. Today, the drab Soviet-style prefab apartments have been cleared away and the neighborhood is being revitalized, with The:Square 3 being a major part of the process.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.

  • Job S. Ebenezer

    I work with low income communities. I set up a roof top garden using kid pools on the roof of a garage in Chicago in 1993. We grew mostly vegetables. You may view the roof top garden in http://www.technologyforthepoor I hope architects will design green walls and roofs for the poor so that they can grow vegetables for their consumption and for making some money.