Sapphire, Berlin / Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind is developing his first apartment building in Germany on Chausseestrasse in Berlin, just metres from where the Berlin Wall used to run its’ course. “Sapphire” bears the rough edges characteristic of Libeskind’s work, making the body of the building resemble a cut gem, a sapphire. The project, which will create a total of 73 apartments, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.

Libeskind’s choice of name actually points beyond the crystalline structure of his building. For it is simultaneously a loving allegory of the present state of Berlin. “It’s all about its holistic character: the light of the sapphire, and simultaneously its softness. But a sapphire is also rough, it is hard, it is durable, it is rugged, it is resilient due to the very nature of its material. All of these are character traits shared by Berlin itself and its residents,” the architect said on the occasion of an interview in which he presented his project for the first time.

The implementation of the building has been entrusted to two local contractors, Rainer Bahr and Holger Rausch.

Each of the two to four bedroom apartments in the Sapphire is unique. The 73 apartments range in size from 36 to 169 square metres, and at least one wall in each of them displays Libeskind’s sculptural style of construction. Libeskind places great importance on the environmental sustainability of his project. Most notably, the conspicuously shimmering ceramic façade will improve the carbon footprint of the building.

“This sort of tile has never been produced before, and is entirely environmentally friendly. It helps the building to balance its emission of greenhouse gases (CO2). What makes the new material special is not just its self-cleaning effect but also the fact that it produces oxygen by converting carbon dioxide.” Moreover, tiles are a highly durable material. So far, no signs of wear or erosion have been demonstrated at all for the ceramic titanium material used by Libeskind.

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