Located at the junction of Leipziger Platz and Postdamer Platz where a portion of the Berlin Wall still stands, the new Canadian Embassy is one of several initiatives in the city’s third wave of reconstruction. The design participates in the reconstruction of the original octagonal wall of Leipziger Platz, and conforms to the stringent planning and design guidelines set out by the District Office of Central Berlin which dictated a stone exterior with punched windows, and 22 metre setbacks.
Specifically, a public route, the Canada Passage, slices through the site, linking Leipziger Platz to Ebertstrasse, and, symbolically, east and west. Unusual for embassies in general, and specifically in the post-9/11 climate, the passage embodies Canada’s commitment to democracy. It features a 15 metre high, copper-clad conical form, Timber Hall, which contains multi-use spaces for public and cultural functions. The interior is lined with Douglas Fir and features an sky-lit oculus from which is suspended a metal and glass compass ring that changes according to the rhythm and strength of the sun.
The winning submission in a national design competition, the design expresses elements of Canada's identity which conforming to Berlin’s stringent design guidelines. In addition to housing the Canadian mission and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the ten-storey structure also provides commercial offices and residential space.
The embassy’s material palette represents several regions of Canada and provides a rich dynamic of interior and exterior spaces for diplomatic, business and cultural activities. On axis with the main entrance in the central bay of the Leipziger Platz façade is the Timber Hall. This decahedral room, which is wrapped by a gently ascending circular stair, is the focus of the design and informs both interior and exterior spaces.
On the ground floor, an exhibition room can be opened up either entirely or selectively to this central space, allowing it to accommodate a variety of large events or devote itself exclusively and securely to diplomatic functions. Above, the Timber Hall, which is open to the sky via a lightly framed glazed skylight system, includes a state-of-the-art conference facility and first-class conference room. Its exterior is copper; the treads and risers of the grand curved stairway are constructed of Ontario limestone. The building exterior is faced with Tyndall limestone from Manitoba. On the south side of the site, a water element creates an unexpected urban oasis.