Right in the heart of Berlin’s west, directly next to the city’s zoo and opposite the Waldorf Astoria hotel and the Memorial Church, is a place that goes beyond conventional architecture, town planning and run-of-the-mill shopping malls: BIKINI BERLIN. The complex of the former “Zentrum am Zoo” from the 1950s includes the Bikinihaus building opposite Breitscheidplatz square, the large high-rise at Hardenbergplatz, the Zoo Palast cinema, the small high-rise with the 25hours hotel and a car park. At the beginning of 2018, BIKINI BERLIN added another highlight to the City West’s culinary offer with the Kantini food market.
BIKINI BERLIN represents the revitalisation of the listed building ensemble from 1957, of the historical “Zentrum am Zoo” (Centre at the Zoo) by the owner Bayerische Hausbau and the comprehensive reconstruction of the location, which had been so dynamic and attractive in the past. With its unique combination of shopping, working, relaxation, cinema and hotel, the masterplan was created by renowned Belgian architect’s office SAQ. The Munich architect’s firm Hild und K was commissioned with its implementation and detailed planning. The centrepiece of the complex is the historical Bikinihaus building with a total length of 200 metres. An open-sided storey framed by columns, which today is fully glazed, once separated the building into one upper and one lower half. This unique feature reminded the Berliners of the revolutionary new swimwear fashion that was hitting the headlines at the time, the bikini. So the building was soon christened “Bikinihaus” (Bikini House) by the locals, consolidated by the fact that it soon became the heart of Berlin’s textile centre, housing the DOB-Verband (Women’s Clothing Association).
The Bikinihaus building is now home to a concept shopping mall with retail and culinary offers. Exclusive office spaces can be found on the third to sixth floors. One of the highlights of BIKINI BERLIN is the freely accessible, green rooftop terrace covering an area of 7,000 m². From here, visitors can enjoy unique views of Berlin’s Zoo and its animal kingdom. The terrace is designed as an urban oasis, which invites visitors to relax and unwind between shopping, working and other activities. In the lower part of the building is a large space covering an area of 3,300 m². Attracting attention here are a spacious event area and a panoramic window with views of the zoo’s monkey enclosure. 18 pop-up stores, the so-called BIKINI BERLIN BOXES, are located on both sides of the event space. For limited periods of time, small presentation areas can be rented here to test out innovative new products and ideas.
In addition to the unconventional retail concept, the architecture of BIKINI BERLIN merits particular attention. This is due to the fact that the group of buildings is one of the few still preserved contemporary witnesses to West Berlin’s turbulent history. The “Zentrum am Zoo” ensemble, which was completed in 1957 by Paul Schwebes and Hans Schoszberger, was not only regarded as an architectural icon of the city’s post-war redevelopment for many decades, but was also a symbol of the City West’s cityscape. The elaborate, true-to-the-original restoration of the façades of the Bikinihaus building, as well as those of the small high-rise, remains true to the original 1950s architecture. Unique architectural elements are the partially coloured projections and recesses of the façade surface with large, horizontal glass panels. The interior design of the concept shopping mall is modern and authentic: dominating here are design elements like the exposed steel structure, concrete ceiling and flooring made from polished Berlin paving stones.
In January 2018, BIKINI BERLIN’s culinary offer was further enhanced with the newly designed Kantini food market. On the first floor of the concept shopping mall, a modern mix of international and local food concepts has been brought together on an area of 1,800 m². The highlight is the light-suffused loggia with its large panoramic window measuring 18 metres long and three metres high, opening up Kantini towards the neighbouring zoo. In addition to the 13 permanent units, two pop-up areas regularly provide new inspiration and present seasonal trends, also from the food retail sector. Kantini is taking the concept shopping mall’s hip lifestyle vibe and translating it into a new culinary hotspot, a response to the international shift towards healthy food, sustainable production and uncomplicated enjoyment.
The small high-rise in the direct vicinity of the Bikinihaus building houses the 25hours design hotel with a total of 149 rooms in six categories. The experience-oriented design concept by Werner Aisslinger takes its inspiration from the location of the hotel between the zoo and Budapester Strasse. The rooms looking out over Breitscheidplatz follow an urban style, while a “jungle” theme referencing the hotel’s proximity to Berlin Zoo awaits the guests in the rooms on the opposite side. On the top floor of the hotel with its wrapround terrace is the trendy Monkey-Bar and a branch of legendary Vienna restaurant Neni.
The Zoo Palast cinema was already an integral part of the historical building complex and was regarded as the heart of the Berlin International Film Festival, the “Berlinale”, for many years. Following its extensive redevelopment, the legendary premiere cinema was reopened on 27 November 2013. In February 2014 the Berlinale also returned. The point of reference for the interior design is the year 1957. The existing substance has been carefully restored and equipped with the comfort and technology of modern-day premiere cinemas. In addition to the four screening rooms in the shell of the old listed building with its two screening rooms from the fifties and two smaller rooms from the 1980s, three new-build cinemas have been added. The cinema now boasts a grand total of 1,650 seats.
The BIKINI BERLIN revitalisation concept is a project of Bayerische Hausbau, one of Germany’s largest integrated real estate companies. Bayerische Hausbau has invested hundreds of millions of euros in the fundamental revitalisation of the area. In total, BIKINI BERLIN offers around 51,100 m² of rental space. Around 17,000 m² are allocated to retail and gastronomy in the concept shopping mall and 1,000 m² to gastronomy in the large high-rise. The Zoo Palast cinema takes up 4,300 m², the 25hours Hotel 8,800 m², and there are also around 20,000 m² of office space (7,500 m² of which are in the Bikinihaus building).