Konsum Karwe

Karwe-Neuruppin, Germany 2019-22

Once a location for the former GDR cooperative supermarket chain Konsum (German for 'consumption'), the building in Karwe, a small village located at lake Neuruppin in Brandenburg, was an abandoned ruin for 25 years before its refurbishment.

In 2017, Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge and Sebastian Behmann acquired the desolate structure together and made an architectural project of the building. In their collaborative design, the body of the existing structure remains intact, complemented by a new roof and a transparent envelop. The new glass facade and roof now provide the necessary isolation for the existing structure.

The roof of the supermarket's former sales room has been removed, making way for an open courtyard that becomes a central space for the building, connecting all other rooms and the roof garden. The green roof sits on the existing walls and is additionally supported by steel beams for the necessary horizontal bracing. Resting on top of the flat roof, is a luscious green space, accessible via a spiral staircase. The roof top garden and the courtyard are designed to offer a contrast to the surrounding landscape – wild and raw. In a skillful interplay, the courtyard, the roof garden and the surrounding scenery form an exciting new visual element which complements the horizontality of the village. The main materials used in the project – brick plinths and floors, clay block walls and a wooden roof structure and their colours and textures – give this house a unique visual identity.

Located centrally within the town, the building can remain an active element of village life. Rather than turning the house exclusively into a private property in its function as a family vacation home, the design aims at blurring the boundaries between public and private space. The building can easily be transformed back into public space by way of multiple options in the future.

The design is based on reusing existing structures, working with sustainable contemporary materials, and implementing ecological solutions, such as geothermal heating and a rain water collecting system. Most materials used in the process remain raw and untreated, so as to comply with the concept of a circular system. Previously sealed surfaces have been re-opened, enabling a natural draining system and the collection of rainwater.

In collaboration with Meyer-Grohbruegge

Client: Sebastian Behmann and Johanna Meyer-Grohbrügge
Location: Karwe-Neuruppin, Germany
Date: 2019–22