OLYMPIC HOUSE - BERLIN
Built in 1936 for the Chef of Siemens, in time for the infamous Berlin Olympics, this villa bears a heavy historical burden. Its architect, Walther Wickop, responsible for German settlements in Poland, was no stranger to the idea that architecture can both embody and impress an ideology on its residents. This villa represents a physical manifestation of the ideas of the 3rd Reich as to family life, structure and behaviour of which the clients have been deeply aware, and felt the weight of, for some time.
Protected extensively as an historical monument, our many proposals for transformation were refused by the authorities. Thereupon our infiltration method was a covert one, using furniture, fittings, upholstery and colour as architectural devices, transforming how one used and moved through spaces. In contrast to the stifling dark brown "historical" materials, we used modern materials and coatings in bright colours. We reused and bound unrelated pieces physically together and made brightly coloured insertions for existing elements such as curtains, shelving and handrails. A well-behaved music room is transformed into an Oriental lounge, a sitting room into a workspace, translucent sideboards & shelving reveal their contents and family members pull their personal workspaces around on a lead. The Olympic House has at last rediscovered the playfulness that all games should inherently have.