Galeries Lafayette

  • Berlin, Germany
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Depth and clarity

The presence of a department store on a major artery must be an event and an attraction.

The passer-by, in the street and on the sidewalk, must be drawn in, with the shop itself—an indoor public space—extending the outdoor space of the Friedrichstrasse.

The brief is a dense one. The spatial strategy creates a synergy, a dynamic between the office spaces and the retail space: the store space expands toward the sky (natural light) and into the ground (a way of introducing architecture, light and a point of reference into the parking garages). It is about giving visitors a sense of the building’s large dimensions, vertically and horizontally.

It reveals the depth and strata.

Seen from the street, the space of the first floor is free, devoid of walls. The dematerialization of the corner enables drivers and pedestrians to see cones of light, one of which—the largest—pulsates, vibrates and flashes with rays and beams of color.

The department store occupies a central place on the site. The structure of the space with its various levels is simple to understand, enabling everyone to know at any moment where they are and where they are going. The two large mirror cones in the central space are fascinating objects.


Messages and images travel across their surfaces, displaying the themes of the different promotional campaigns. Thanks to anamorphosis (a deformed image recreated by a curved mirror), a precise image is distorted and appears on all of the mirror surfaces, a real enigma as well as a spectacle. These shifting and deformed message-images are supplemented by others, this time perfectly controlled and precise, on two large screens, one on Friedrichstrasse and the other on Französische Strasse.

These signs appear in halos, either triangular (echoing the cones) or rectangular (echoing the screens), seen through the facade with its screenprinted mirror strips.

The offices are pierced by cones of white light, veritable internal lighting. The floors around the cones are dotted with transparent glass that becomes gradually more opaque. All these effects of light diffusion mark the building by day and, of course, even so more by night.


Geometry and light create an architecture of infinite variations that is linked to time, in keeping with the rhythm and nature of the programmed images.

Halfway between abstraction and figuration, artificial and natural light, we want to create an interplay, a subtle, seductive decorative setting that explores the revealed and the hidden, darkness and light, the intelligible and the perceptible. The first spark in the revival of Friedrichstrasse.


Jean Nouvel