David Chipperfield’s £420 million redevelopment of a 1970s shopping centre on one of Berlin’s most famous streets has cleared its last hurdle after a referendum collapsed.
Some Berliners were opposed to the plans because they involve demolishing two 1920s theatres at the entrance to the unattractive Ku’damm Karree complex on the Kürfurstendamm.
Developer Ballymore insists the viability of the 21,000 sq m project depends on being able to widen this entrance to give it more street presence.
But critics argue the unlisted theatres are an important reminder of the history of what was once West Berlin. They forced a local referendum on Sunday but turnout was so low – 13.7% – that it was ruled invalid, clearing the way for work to begin.
The appointment of Chipperfield - considered a hero in the city for his transformation of the ruined Neues Museum - is credited with weakening the opposition.
Chipperfield’s proposal involves replacing the two auditoria with a single new theatre above a shopping arcade on the Ku’damm that will lead into the interior of the block, ending in a landscaped square.
This will create new views of a 23-storey office tower which is part of the original complex, giving it a “new urban presence”.
Next to this, a six-storey building will replace a “spatially convoluted retail area,” said a spokeswoman for David Chipperfield Architects’ Berlin office.
“The overall development will represent a typical mixture for City West of culture, retail, office space and gastronomy,” she added.
The scheme due to be completed in 2014.