In Berlin there are numerous noteworthy examples of the successful preservation of old industrial architecture. This includes the Goerzwerk, a listed complex with over 100 years of history. Owner Silvio Schobinger established a colourful mix of manufacturing companies, retailers and service providers in the gradually modernised buildings. As a result of the tenants, the Berliner Werkstätten für Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH (Berlin workshops for people with disabilities) taking the vacant ground floor areas, over 100 new workplaces were created, which were fitted with acoustic ceilings from Knauf AMF.
In 1890, the optician Carl Paul Goerz founded the “Optical Institution C.P. Goerz, a place of work for the production of cameras and precision optics.” During the First World War, the main building including machine hall and courtyard was constructed on the Zehlendorfer canal, (now Lichterfelde), according to the designs of the architect Emster. Added to this was then the works housing estate on the harbour and the company's own fire station on Goerzallee, today also listed. The Goerzwerk industrial complex included the entire current industrial park on the canal and experienced a varied history.
Careful renovation of the industrial monument
In 2015, the investor Silvio Schobinger, together with his brother Mario, acquired the complex, which since then operates under the name "Goerzwerk" and now houses around 110 companies and service providers - from the ice cream factory to the stand-up paddling shop. A long-term tenant is the Berliner Werkstätten für Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH (BWB). The BWB has been providing people with disabilities with space for three decades to try their hand at working life and develop their own skills. The employees fulfill various production orders for Berlin and Brandenburg companies. When a manufacturer of security technology moved out, the BWB took the opportunity to additionally rent the vacant space and to create around 100 new, ground-floor accessible workplaces in the workshop.
Between 2016 and 2018, various redesigns took place in several phases in the BWB's premises, which were financed by the company itself as a tenant conversion. The designs were carried out by Katharina Jester and Annette Bräuer, owners of the architectural studio berlin.interior. They were guided by the basic idea of preserving the special character of the building ensemble as far as possible. This principle should also apply to the acoustic measures. Katharina Jester: "In connection with the renovation of the corridor and canteen area on the 4th floor at the end of 2016, we came up with the idea of using only individual ceiling areas with acoustic tiles instead of the complete acoustical ceiling previously installed to reveal the impressive structure of the industrial monument. For this we used HERADESIGN® wood wool acoustic tiles due to their somewhat harsh industrial charm and the ecologically pleasing sustainability factor."
Complete design concept for colour, light and acoustic
Part of the concept from berlin.interior for the refurbishment of the 4th floor: “The dominant, bright, colourfulness of the corridors and the canteen will be abandoned in favour of a light and friendly colour range in white and grey tones with a neutral and modern workshop character for floors, ceilings and walls.... The concept will be complemented with highlighted details in machine orange... The colour and light design of the corridors continues in the canteen and is complemented with atmospheric elements.” To acoustically upgrade the 120 m² ceiling area, the wood wool acoustic tiles HERADESIGN® superfine (25 mm) were used in three different special formats, coloured in RAL 9002 (grey-white). The measures taken in the canteen used by around 100 employees, significantly contributed to achieving one of the goals defined in planning: "The canteen becomes a space for recreation and refueling."
This result led to the clients, BWB, allowing the current acoustic measures to be designed and executed in the same way. For the 1200 m² workshop area and around 230 m² canteen with kitchen on the ground floor, the architects designed "an open and flexible room concept with minimal intervention to the building structure and a working environment where people feel comfortable." In order to implement this design principle adequately, various, sometimes costly, preparatory work was unavoidable: The reinforced concrete ceiling fields with plasterboard were initially reworked. Old layers of paint had to be washed off, parts of the surface replastered. This was followed by a sealant and then the final coat of white paint. Then the specialist contractor team screwed a substructure of roof battens to the ceiling and screw-fixed the wood wool acoustic tiles with a mineral wool insulation insert.
Compromise between acoustic optimisation and visibility of the building structure
Annette Bräuer: “It was important for us to preserve the reinforced concrete girder ceiling structure, with their recurring perforated beams at two metre centres and the ceiling fields between with circumferential plasterboard. To enable this, only the flat ceiling areas were to be installed with acoustic tiles with minimal installation height. All the circumferential plasterboard of the ceiling fields remained untouched.” Of course, the BWB were interested in having the most effective acoustic solution possible. The calculations carried out by Knauf AMF in the rooms showed that the highest acoustic effectiveness would be achieved by installing a ceiling in the entire area. "However, due to the desired use of grid structure in the existing structures and the associated flexible use concept, this was technically out of the question," explains Katharina Jester. “The BWB therefore allowed us to experiment, with every improvement seen as an advantage, in order to find a compromise between the visibility of the historical ceiling and acoustic optimisation.”
The main challenge for the architects from berlin.interior was to find a modular scheme, that would do justice to the modules of the reinforced concrete skeleton construction, whilst leaving enough room to meet the technical requirements, such as, cable trays beneath the tiles. In addition, deviations from the module, such as, walls stairways etc. also had to be integrated into the system in the 100 metre long workshop hall.
Perfect work by the specialist contractor
As on the fourth floor, HERADESIGN® superfine wood-wool acoustic tiles with a 1mm fibre width in 25mm thickness were used on the ceiling of the workshop on the ground floor. The colour used was RAL 9002 (grey-white) as was the previously installed acoustic ceiling. The battens of the substructure, according to the design, should be installed in the longitudinal direction of the ceiling fields as 3 parallel battens, closed on the short sides. In addition, the battens should be set back by 25 mm on all edges of the acoustic tiles, to avoid visibility of the substructure from the side. Annette Bräuer: “In the implementation, the biggest challenge was that it was not simply possible to install tiles, row upon row, but the tolerances of the old building had to be taken up as invisibly as possible by repeatedly transferring and measuring. The team from Uwe Sandmann Trockenbau (Lübben) turned out to be real professionals, who did an incredibly precise job. There was nothing miscut across the entire large area!”
Another special design aspect was the suspension of the lights. In order to avoid installation by means of inappropriate ceiling roses, the architects had holes made in the tiles at the suspension points, through which the lights could be suspended from the soffit. “It looks very elegant”, Katharina Jester is just as satisfied with the result as the clients BWB GmbH: “During the installation process, all the participants in the construction department noticed the effectiveness of the acoustic measures. Today, users enjoy the quiet working atmosphere.” In mid-June 2019, BWB GmbH celebrated the opening of the new workshop and its 30th anniversary at Goerzwerk.
- Project: Conversion of a heritage-protected factory floor into a workshop and canteen for people with disabilities
- Completion: 2019
- Location: Goerzwerk in Berlin-Lichterfelde
- Client: BWB Berliner Werkstätten für Menschen mit Behinderung GmbH
- Designer: berlin.interior architects, Annette Bräuer and Katharina Jester
- Specialist contractor: U.S. Trocken-Akustikbau GmbH, Lübben
- Products used: