Within the heart of the previous East/West Germany border, many buildings were constructed by the East German government to showcase the ‘might’ of communism. The divided city was ideal for showcasing this power before the isolated area of West Berlin. The 17-storey high rise built on Charlottenstrasse has the claim of being the tallest high-rise built after World War II. Many of the buildings in East Berlin were designed and constructed by the government, under the watchful eye of a group of state employed architects.
Now known as Rocket Tower Konferenz, in 1995 the building was previously home to GSW, a real estate company that has deep roots in East Germany through the reconstruction of the city following WWII. The plot on Charlottenstrasse 4 was just a few tens of metres from the border to West Berlin, and thus provided an ideal location to peer into the neighbouring nation as well as show off the construction, similar to what had been done with the Fernsehturm overlooking the entirety of West Berlin.
Although the Rocket Tower may now not resemble the original office high-rise it was originally purposed for, it has still kept a lot of intriguing features through many decades of societal change. The building now features an iconic 22-storey curved front facade, with many colours associated both with modernisation but also linked with the drab East German colour scheme. There are also many new features that continue the modernisation GSW were focussed on after the destruction of the city in the 1940s.
GSW had a goal of modernising the city from the grandeur style seen in Paris and other European capitals. Some of the majestic buildings can still be seen today in quainter areas of Berlin, but nowhere more-so than around the central Lustgarten and Museumsinsel. This area renowned for its historic building style and period features. Some areas of Berlin, even those in the previous eastern sector, feature shapes and patterns that can be associated with contemporary and post-modern styles.
Mainly involved in real estate, GSW also had a part to play in designing buildings as to what the East German government requested. Working alongside some of the most well-known architects of East Germany, the company can be linked to varying buildings around the city. These architects were employed by the East German government, in contrast to the western practice of architects working individually.
In 1995, the Rocket Tower Konferenz underwent a massive expansion for GSW from the original 17-storey tower, to a 22-storey tall, four structure complex. This work was undertaken by Sauerbruch Hutton architects, who have been responsible for many renovations and constructions across Europe. Their work in Berlin varies massively from educational, residential to commercial such as the Rocket Tower.
The previous GSW HQ now stands as a conference centre as well as offices for many differing businesses. It has a strong focus on sustainability, with the redesign in 1995 changing the way the building consumes energy, utilising passive house functions to save on the energy. The main selling point of the building now is a 200 capacity conference room, complete with lectern, discussion panel and atrium for networking sessions.