“Unity and justice and freedom”: Foundation Stone for the new Axel Springer building in Berlin




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02.05.17

“Unity and justice and freedom”: Foundation Stone for the new Axel Springer building in Berlin

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Festive ceremony in Berlin / Premiere of documentary film on the history of the building site
Michael Müller, Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin, Friede Springer, Dr. Mathias Döpfner, CEO Axel Springer SE, and Architect Rem Koolhaas (l.t.r.) at the ceremony
© Axel Springer SE

It is a tradition at Axel Springer that when a foundation stone is laid for a new building or printing plant, it occurs on the birthday of the publisher himself. In line with this tradition, on May 2, 2017, Axel Springer SE celebrated the laying of the foundation stone for the new Axel Springer building in Berlin, which has been started to raise right next to the publishers’ existing buildings on the construction site bordered by Axel-Springer-Strasse, Schützenstrasse, Zimmerstrasse and Jerusalemer Strasse since the official launch of construction on October 6, 2016. The spectacular design of the thirteen-story office building for the digital working environment of the future was conceived by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and will provide space for 3,500 employees.

Dr. Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, welcomed over 140 guests including the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Müller, as well as many of those involved in the construction. “We are glad to see our new building project taking shape,” said Döpfner. “We are building on land steeped in history, right on the former Berlin wall in what was once the East, and so Axel Springer has now architecturally overcome the border of the once divided city. We are building on a construction site that has experienced the tragedies of East and West Germany, but especially German Jewish fates. Our goal is to reflect on this history while looking to the future. The radical, modern design by Rem Koolhaas redefines the workspace in the digital world. It will serve as both symbol and accelerator for change, as well as for the bond between employees and their company.”

In his greeting, Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin, underlined the significance of the new building for Berlin: “This building is a major investment in Berlin as a media centre. The close ties between Axel Springer and our city will be carried forward at this site. It was 50 years ago that Springer erected a publishing house in a divided Berlin as a symbol of freedom and a Europe at peace. This new building is a symbol of today’s Berlin – a digital capital and media city.”

Following another tradition set by publisher Axel Springer and with the words “unity and justice and freedom” (the first line of the German national anthem), Friede Springer undertook the symbolic hammer blow on the foundation stone, into which a stainless steel capsule had been set. The contents of the time capsule are intended to document and preserve items typical of the era and the company for future generations. Employees took part in a company-wide competition for ideas on the contents of the capsule. Naturally it had to include the day’s editions of newspapers (WELT, BILD, B.Z.) along with the corporate principles, the Essentials. The time capsule also included documents related to the construction, such as building plans, as well as – fully digital and in addition to the analog coins – a data carrier with a code for bitcoin satoshis. A small silver anchor was included as a reminder of Hamburg, where the company was founded. The offerings of the company’s digital brands were downloaded onto a smartphone.

Also included was a special certificate for the building, which contained these words: “Just as Axel Springer once did, we, too, lay this foundation stone at a border. We lay it at the border of a new epoch, peering into uncertainty. But we lay it in the knowledge that we can shape the future. So we build with a great sense of optimism. The bright, open architecture will serve as symbol and incentive for the transparency of our work, the confidence with which we approach it, and the light that it can and will send out to society.”

The planned new building after completion.
© Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

After the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone at the construction site, the event continued on the 19th floor of the publishing building with the premiere of a 15-minute documentary film. Comprehensive cross-brand research on the history of the construction site by Sven Felix Kellerhoff, chief editor for Contemporary and Cultural History at WELT, and Hans-Wilhelm Saure, chief reporter for the BILD Investigative Research division, uncovered a wealth of stories which were portrayed for the new documentary. The film, produced by Zeitsprung Pictures GmbH, shows that the site reflects not just the history of Berlin, but Germany as a whole. Axel Springer SE dedicates the film to the victims and the heroes whose destinies were bound up with the construction site.

In a discussion moderated by Claus Strunz, SAT.1 presenter and head of TV and video production at Axel Springer, Mathias Döpfner and Rem Koolhaas discussed the architecture and the requirements of the modern working environment, with Döpfner stressing that the new Axel Springer building will support the cultural transformation of Europe’s leading digital publisher, while at the same time making this very transformation visible and tangible. Koolhaas said “The possibility to project into the future, through architecture, both the building site with its exceptional history, and the company with its central role in modern Germany, was a rare opportunity that greatly inspired us.”

New Axel Springer building microsite

The documentary film “Das Fundament” (“The Foundation”) as well as videos and photos recounting the history of the construction site and the surrounding area can be found at the microsite for the new Axel Springer building www.axelspringer-neubau.de.

inside.app

You can find further information on the construction site and the laying of the foundation stone on May 2, 2017, in Berlin on the Axel Springer inside.app: www.axelspringer.com/inside_app.

Press contact:
Anne Müller

Tel: +49 30 2591 77606