French Embassy in Germany

  • Berlin, Germany
Return to projects archives

  • Slide 0
  • Slide 1
  • Slide 2
  • Slide 3
  • Slide 4

“This is an extraordinary garden…”


The concept consists in maximising the public areas not only in terms of meter squares, but also visually and symbolically, with perspectives, gardens and transparences.


The site itself is lined with high common walls that give the feeling of being confined. From the exterior, we try to ask a question which symbolically becomes an invitation to step in. From the interior we maximise the space by creating perspectives and visual effects to lengthen the distances and to delete the limits, creating an unmistakable french identity, a surprise “à la française” in the heart of Berlin.


Outside, the façade is regular, screened and massive. The thickness of stone measures 60 cm. Behind this heavy wall made with the same material as the Brandenburg gate, a second structure made of grey steel creates mullions in each window. Behind, a third supporting surface made of glass and fine stainless steel materializes the drawing of the interior window; interior window with a plain exterior and frameless. An all white glass module encloses the thick façade and makes it smooth, as requested by security measures.


The master plan is organised into a hierarchy. The most significant elements of the program are lined up and thus allow perspectives. As far as the head offices are concerned, they are located in the terrace building on the east part of the site. They either have a direct view on a garden roof or on an atrium with greenery. They are protected from the sun with venetian blinds made of screened glass slats that accentuates the visual effect of the terraces.


Common walls are covered with plants based on Patrick Blanc’s idea (researcher at CNRS) of vertical gardens, similar to garden terrace arrangements. But the garden is simple. It is a wild nature that develops itself and requires a minimum of upkeep. Patrick Blanc and Michel Desvigne studied the development of the plants. The competition between the plants modifies the initial order. Essences are chosen to enhance the seasons and withstand the cold weather. Water is omnipresent: first with the large water fall in perspective, at the end of the main yard. The fall is made of small projections of water trickling alongside a wall of moss. The mineral architecture is the medium through which the vegetal architecture is expressed. It is only to be seen through the vegetal filter, usually from bellow, or else with a horizontal perspective. It is a real surprise for the visitor who discovers a welcoming microclimate. For people working in the offices the atmosphere is calm and serene.


It is the symbol of a complex geography just as our country is.


The interior space is thus stretched, enlarged and generated by the landscape which is strictly indissociable from the suggested architecture, punctuated by the clouds, the wind, the seasons… This architecture full of emotion is the evidence of a french sensibility behind berliner façades.



Jean Nouvel