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Boulevard Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Issue 75 October / November 2013 : Retail : Shopping Mall

ARCHITECT: Ortner & Ortner, Wien/Berlin/Köln LIGHTING DESIGN: Licht Kunst Licht (Edwin Smida, Daria Olejniczak, Sylke Grahn, Andreas Schulz) PHOTOGRAPHY: Delta-Kapa Photography, Dimitrios Katsamakas, Berlin

Using a discrete palette of lighting tools, Licht Kunst Licht has created a visual style that binds together the different architectural zones of the new Boulevard Berlin.

Schloßstraße has long served as the main shopping strip in Steglitz, a Berlin district to the southwest of the city’s centre. Though the street already provided a concentration of retail outlets, management company Multi Development saw an opportunity to introduce a high-end shopping environment, one that placed the emphasis on providing a quality experience, alongside a strong variety of outlets.

In 2012, their plan came to fruition with the launch of Boulevard Berlin, a new mall comprising over 160 rental units offering a combined 76,000 square metres of retail space.

Licht Kunst Licht were drafted in as lighting designers, working alongside architects Ortner & Ortner in the creation of a strong interior design. Their key focus was to produce a scheme that went beyond the usual shopping mall fare, one that served the ambience of the architectural space and so produce a memorable spatial experience for visitors.

As it’s start point, the 390 million euro project adopted Treischkestraße, an existing road adjoining Schloßstraße, and enveloped it within a new single structure. Existing shops along the street were replaced and the entire boulevard was enclosed by a glass roof and end walls. At the far end of the street, dubbed the ‘Promonade’, a main entrance was created to face Harry-Bresslau-Park, a newly formed public space.

Off to one side of the main Treischkerstraße thoroughfare, a series of additional hallways connect to an internal courtyard and, at the underground levels, to the U-Bahn entrance.

Throughout the mall, Licht Kunst Licht have used cove lighting to create a cohesive scheme, one which aims to make the space comprehensible to visitors while engendering a spacious ambience and avoiding what the team considered “the usual over-designed luminaires.”

Compared to the main shopping areas, where the illuminated ceilings unfold in almost sculptural fashion, the connecting passageways were deliberately given a more introverted lightings scheme of concealed downlights. Consequently, visitors are drawn back to the main areas,


Because of the Promenade’s previous status as a public highway, city planners specified that it remain accessible as a thoroughfare for pedestrians throughout the day and night. Consequently, this section of the mall was given an ‘outdoor’ aesthetic, its glass roof and end façades designed to retain a visual link with the outside world. The lighting was used to underscore this look, while also creating a warm and inviting atmosphere that would draw visitors into the mall.
The decision to plant real olive trees along the promenade created an added challenge, calling for complementary artificial lighting with levels of around 1,500 lux.

The solution comprised a layout of adjustable projectors with 150W HIT lamps of an adequate spectrum so that light sources could be directed either at the trees or the Promenade’s access zones or the trees. These projectors are attached to a custom-made gimbal frame with a central emergency lighting component. The high flexibility and the directional, representative light emanating from the gimbal projectors compensate for the design compromise of a relatively ‘ostentatious’ surface mounting detail at the upper building edge.

Wertheim foyer

Sitting at the Schloßstraße end of the Promenade, the Wertheim department store building was unique in having its listed, curved façade preserved whilst the rest of the structure was completely dismantled and redeveloped. For the new interior plan, the architect chose an open concrete ceiling grid, which distinguishes this section of the mall significantly from the rest of the complex. At their centre, these coffers are fitted with a diffuse light object with an additional directional light component.
Within the foyer space, escalators were clad in punched sheet brass that is backlit to create an elegant effect, complemented by a luminous membrane ceiling.


From the ground floor of the Wertheim area of the mall, a hall takes visitors deeper into the complex, towards the internal courtyard. While bright and crisp ceiling surfaces predominate throughout most of the mall, the ceilings and pillars in these halls are covered with black stone. The effect is dramatic, one intensified by the use of sharp directional light provided by down- and spotlights.

Contrasting with the dark surfaces, backlit friezes are placed at the centre of the halls, sometimes integrated with the balustrades flanking the voids between basement and ground floor, sometimes directly beneath the ceiling. Powerful LED profiles mounted behind a translucent film create a grazing light effect on the white back walls.

Cove lighting, positioned close to the shopfront windows, links the surrounding galleries.

Inner courtyard

Around the inner courtyard, a three-tiered structure of staggered coves provides illumination to the surrounding area. By repeating this on each level, an impressive visual impact is created, especially when looking up through the atrium space. In order to achieve maximum efficiency of indirect lighting, the sources have an asymmetrical characteristic. A custom made cove lighting fixture using T16 fluorescent lamps allows different overlaps depending on the length of the ceiling recesses.

Special corner elements ensure continuous illumination even around the corners. In areas where the lamp can be seen from upper levels, slightly frosted acrylic glass covers ensure an uncluttered appearance. Beneath the skylight at the top of the courtyard atrium, HIT spotlights were installed to provide a powerful directional light.

Terrace House

Overlooking Harry-Bresslau-Park at the main entrance to the complex, the Terrace House has a more fluid architecture of circular shapes. Again, the use of cove lighting ties this aesthetically with the rest of the mall, providing a common design language for each distinct architectural zones.

The ceiling off-sets and indirect lighting locations were selected to emphasis the expressive structure. By extending the cove lighting around the circular columns, a playful serenity is achieved, one which avoids looking tacky or overloaded. The remaining areas outside these circle segments are lit by loosely interspersed downlights.

With its glazed façade, the Terrace House provides a welcoming glow, setting the scene for shoppers as they enter Boulevard Berlin’s graceful interior.


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