Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) belongs to a consolidated tradition of historical European urban department stores such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Selfridges in London and La Rinascente in Milan. Historically, these department stores have been some of the pillars of early modern retail, acting as incubators for sophisticated crafts, social exchange and experimentation in services.

▼改造后的商场空间概览,overall view of the interior of the department store after renovation ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA


Since its opening in 1907, the KaDeWe has always been at the forefront of product selection, while also setting new standards for customer services. Its unique size – the biggest department store in continental Europe – makes it akin to a city: a three-dimensional network of paths, squares, neighborhoods, activities and views unfolding through its large extensions, providing opportunities for commercial, social and cultural encounters. Its evolution reflects Germany’s modern history: from its origins in the early 20th century, through WWII destructions and the subsequent rebirth in the 1950s when it became a symbol of the country’s post war reconstruction and economic success. Late 20th century modifications, accelerating global economic shifts and the digital revolution have turned the KaDeWe’s former set up into an obsolete model. An alternative to the established retail model – a model that redefines the relationship between the department store, its patrons and its physical and urban environments – is timely.

▼设计策略,design strategy ©OMA


Our proposal for the transformation of KaDeWe is tactical. Rather than treating the existing building as a singular mass, the project breaks it into four quadrants, each one with different architectural and commercial qualities, targeted at different audiences: classic, experimental, young, generic. The four department stores under one single roof fragment the original mass into smaller, easily accessible and navigable components – similar to distinct urban sectors embedded into a unifying city fabric.

▼模型,建筑被分成四个部分,model, the building is divided into four quadrants ©OMA


model, different vertical circulations inserted into the void of each quadrants ©OMA

Each quadrant addresses a different street entrance and is organized around its core void, which acts both as a central atrium and a primary vertical circulation space. Through a process closer to curating than designing, each void is developed specifically, resulting in four distinct spatial experiences and four efficient models of organization within a single department store. Throughout the nine levels of the building, the voids transform in size and extension, avoiding repetition and making every floor unique: they disappear on the ground floor, morph through the commercial areas, and one of the voids reaches the new rooftop.

▼空洞下的首层空间,ground floor space under the void ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

voids in different sizes and staggered escalators creating unique spaces ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

▼中庭,atrium ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

▼店铺与垂直流线,stores and vertical circulation ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

▼中庭和电梯近景,closer view to the atrium and the escalator ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

▼仰望中庭空间,look up at the atrium space ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

▼夜晚电梯上的丰富灯光,various lighting effects on the escalator in the night ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA


▼十字形组织系统,cross-shaped organizational system ©OMA

A cross-shaped organizational system reinforces the presence of the quadrants on each commercial floor. It regulates the use of the spaces, the general circulation, the transition between one quadrant and the other and the relationship between brands and curated spaces, while at the same time allowing the injection of unexpected programs. The building operates as infrastructure allowing for multiple conditions and uses.

▼清晰的流线,clear circulation ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA


The original vaulted rooftop becomes a compact glass volume, extending organically from the profile of the existing building. The journey through one of the voids culminates with a final escalator ramp that brings the visitors here for an expansive view of Berlin. The configuration of the new rooftop creates an open-air courtyard between the new architectural insert and the rest of the building. Irregular in shape, the courtyard provides a space for outdoor programs and simultaneously unveils the most exciting and yet most secret spaces of KaDeWe: its food laboratories.

external view of the building after renovation with a compact glass volume ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

▼沿街店铺立面,store front along the street ©Marco Cappelletti, Courtesy of OMA

Client: KaDeWe Group
Location: Berlin, Germany
Site: Berlin, Tauentzienstraße
Program: Renovation 90.000 m² department store 

OMA Team
Partner: Ellen van Loon, Rem Koolhaas
Team: Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, Alex de Jong, Natalie Konopelski. Giacomo Ardesio, Sandra Bsat, Laurence Bolhaar, Janna Bystrykh, Paul Cournet, Alessandro De Santis, Alice Gregoire, Luis Guzman Grossberger, Sacha Hickinbotham, Piotr Janus, Aleksandar Joksimovic, Francesca Lantieri, Barbara Materia, Romea Muryn, Miguel Taborda, Salome Nikuradze, Rita L. Álvarez-Tabío Togores, Felix Perasso, Mariano Sagasta, Iason Stathatos, Tom Xia, Weronika Zaborek 

Management: SMV Bauprojektsteuerung Ingenieursgesellschaft mbH
Structural Engineer: IBK Ing.-Büro für Tragwerksplanung
Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineers: IBT Ingenieurbüro Trache
Local Architects: Architekturbüro Udo Landgraf, Heine Architekten Partnerschaft mbB, AUKETT+HEESE GmbH
Lighting: Sekles Planungsbuero
Escalators: HUNDT CONSULT GmbH, Geyssel Fahrtreppen GmbH
Resin panels: Sabine Marcelis Studio