Water Pumping Plant Residence

DATE: 2008
LOCATION: Berlin, Germany, EU
OLD USE: Utility
NEW USE: Residence, art gallery


The building was erected between 1925 and 1926 as an extension to the first pumping station in Berlin’s Neukoelln district (then called Rixdorf) dating from 1893. In 1993 new facilities were built on the adjoining premises and the old pumping station was decommissioned. In 1989 the former pumping station was placed under preservation order. Over the 13 years following the closedown it was not possible to find a use for the building, mainly because of its location, the exceptional size of the hall and the lack of a second escape route for the upper floors.


There had been a survey commissioned by the preservation authorities in 2002 that included major concessions such as new staircases within the hall and big dormers on the roof, but still no one could be found to buy it. It was only in early 2006, when Berlin-based artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset caught sight of the house through an online real estate service and spontaneously decided to make it their new headquarters.[1]


The resulting adaptation is a home with a vast floor plan broken up into small “nooks.” It contains two separate private areas for each of the artists, as well as kitchen, four bathrooms, an attic living room, and a large living/working space.[2]


Images courtesy of Nils Wenk, ArchDaily, and Udo Meinel.