• March 3, 2013

How do you want to live in the future?

Three towers of gold, silver, and bronze and three diagonally shaped city blocks make up THE: SQUARE³, a new mixed use development inspired by sport that revitalises a unique urban quarter in Berlin. The project is just nine minutes from Alexanderplatz, the very heart of Berlin, and located near Europe’s largest urban nature reserve and a sports hot spot.

002 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA overall zoom 600x337 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

Conceived by visionary developer Moritz Gruppe and designed by internationally acclaimed architects, LAVA, THE: SQUARE³ theme is Life, Nature, Sport:

  1. LIFE: A multifunctional urban plan includes all the essentials for a high-quality and healthy urban existence for locals, workers and visitors, successfully answering the demands of a contemporary, quality lifestyle.
  2. NATURE: Green characterises three blocks containing apartments, retail space, a kindergarten and social services. Residents will enjoy diagonally shaped spaces, green roof-scapes with cascading balconies, integrated garden courtyards, and overlook playing fields. Hanging plant-filled facades are articulated according to building orientation, offering an enhanced quality of living.
  3. SPORT: Rising above a sport ‘podium’ are three towers of varying heights with Olympic themed metallic facades of gold, silver and bronze. Each volume is tapered to maximise sunlight, views and ventilation. Offices for sports companies and clubs, apartments, a medical and research centre, sports education facilities, a sports hotel (specifically for athletes) and a sports focused shopping mall at ground level, encircle a green piazza.
007 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA 600x337 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

Gone is the ‘bedroom suburb’, all apartments with no infrastructure. In Germany, and especially in Berlin, projects usually concentrate on one utilisation concept, for example apartments or offices. As a result there are too few supermarkets, parking spaces, jobs and school spaces. The single use concept is more common, but mixed use is the way forward.

For us THE: SQUARE³ is more than just a development project, it’s a philosophy. Living in a big city is an experience – you can’t just order it online. A good mix of people, culture and lifestyles is what makes a city interesting and worth living in. Our goal is to answer the question: ‘How do we want to live in the future?’. And we see that this blending of commercial, social, leisure and residential facilities is the solution.

The sport theme runs through both the design and the utilisation concept. It references and enhances the nearby centre of excellence for high-performance sport, Sportforum Berlin, comprising Germany’s largest Olympic Training Centre, by providing more facilities and services for athletes, sports officials and outdoor leisure lovers.

Dirk Moritz, managing director of Moritz Gruppe.

004 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA aerial 600x337 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

The innovative design solution maximises the spatial experience whilst minimising the use of energy and resources.

Re-thinking a traditional city block with different scales and typologies demanded a new approach. The building ensembles balance contemporary requirements with respect for the historic urban context. LAVA’s design integrates nature and future technologies – geometries in nature create both efficiency and beauty whilst future technologies enhance comfort.

Tobias Wallisser director of LAVA.

Sustainability is embedded in the project. Mixed use ensures social sustainability. Building shapes maximise daylight, reducing the need for artificial light and energy use. Facades integrate photo-voltaics as a means of regenerative energy production. Naturally ventilated spaces minimise mechanical ventilation. Rainwater is collected and reused.

008 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA ground view 600x337 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

The project is located in Alt-Hohenschönhausen, an area once known for its Stasi memorial and East German prefab apartments, and now ripe for revitalisation. Its proximity to the city centre, its location near several beautiful lakes and a large nature reserve, and its leisure and sporting facilities make it unique.

These qualities of life, nature and sport set it apart. Central East Berlin has seen all the action – Mitte, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg. But Alt-Hohenschönhausen is really quite something and more and more investors are starting to realise projects here! Our project ‘Schokostücke’, transforming a former confectionary factory, set the foundation for this in 2011.


THE: SQUARE³ is one of four projects shortlisted in the prestigious 2013 MIPIM real estate awards in the Futura category.

This recognition confirms our belief that by unifying the essentials of living – work, habitation, education, health, leisure – we will enhance the quality of life and community.


Previous winners of MIPIM include the DaimlerChrysler development Potsdamer Platz (1999) and the new Reichstag (2000, special jury price).

014 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA workflow sketch 600x324 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

011 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA crosssection 600x424 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

012 The SQUARE³ Moritz Gruppe LAVA cross section 600x424 THE: SQUARE³ \ LAVA

courtesy LAVA

Utilisation concept

LIFE: apartments, offices, retail, social facilities
NATURE: sustainability and integrating the natural environment
SPORT: offices for sports clubs and companies, sports medical centre, sports hotel and hospitality for athletes, sports oriented shopping mall


LIFE: spaces for community living
NATURE: roof gardens, hanging green facades and courtyards
SPORT: podium shaped skyscrapers

+ Project information


Berlin is a city with a long history and tradition. The design of a project in an urban area characterised by different scales and typologies demands a new approach. Rather than mimicking a particular style or historical development, the project aims at an evolutionary development of these typologies. The roofs of the city blocks become roof-scapes with balconies cascading into the courtyards. The rectangular volumes of the towers are diagonally cut creating more open views and perspectives.


Rather than a technological add-on, sustainability is embedded in the project’s setup that optimises solar gains and the use of energy. A careful balance of mixed use ensures social sustainability and use of the buildings. The integration of large green areas for the courtyards and the roof of the housing blocks and for the roof of the podium as well as gardens in the towers make plants an integral part of the architecture. Mixed use also provides the opportunity to combine heating with the production of energy resulting in a highly efficient system. All buildings maximise daylight, reducing the need for artificial light. Spaces are, where possible, naturally ventilated minimising the need for mechanical ventilation. Rainwater will be collected and reused. The towers feature an innovative use of vertical green as well as surfaces that integrate photo-voltaics as means of regenerative energy production integrated seamlessly in the metallic facades.


The surrounding urban fabric of the site is diverse and fragmented at present. The Sportsforum fields, some turn of the century buildings, modern era housing blocks and a parking lot. The design responds by reformulating existing typologies to adapt to the various scales, relating to both 19th century and 20th century buildings as well as to the open space and the urban streetscape. This results in the clustering of the high-rise towers and in the landscaped articulation of the roofs of the residential blocks. The new massing corresponds to the themes of life – nature – sport creating boundaries and views between old and new parts. It ties old and new together on many levels, programmatic as well as urban and architecturally.


The mixed-use concept is perfectly adapted and related to the nearby environment. It adds significant value to the quality of life and to German sports and sports in general. It reflects the local centre of excellence for high-performance sport, promotes local, national and global sports, generating positive social, health and economic benefits to the area. The architecture is forward looking and dynamic. It is less an expression of traditional facade grids or materials but rather one of the next stage of development in a dynamic, global city that respects traditions but combines different stages of its history with new possibilities.


The building structure is concrete and the tower cladding is metal to achieve the shimmering effect related to the sports podium concept. The facades have a metal structure with vertical green on the lower levels to relate the buildings into the green park landscape of the Sportsforum. The roofs of the apartment blocks are metal clad with a light colour to reduce the effect of urban overheating.

+ Project data

Project: THE: SQUARE³
Location: Berlin, Germany
Size: land 62,000 sqm; 146,000 sqm gross floor space
Facilities: 210 childcare spaces, 1,000 apartments, 100,000 sqm for offices/retail/commercial.
One medical and research centre, sports hotel and hospitality, including a sports-oriented shopping mall. Social and education facilities, some of them specialised in sports education. Parking concept with multi-storey carparks.
Cost: € 450 million investment
Construction: due to start in 2014 and be completed in 2017
Status: Masterplan Zoning
Project Development and Management: Moritz Gruppe GmbH
Project Concept: Dirk Moritz / Moritz Gruppe GmbH
Architecture: LAVA (Design and Visualisation)
Sales / Marketing: Moritz Gruppe GmbH

Moritz Gruppe: We find potential in the most unexpected projects and spaces

For 20 years the department real estate development of Moritz Gruppe has specialised in developing extraordinary projects including a forgotten music hall theatre in Berlin Mitte, a former confectionary factory in Alt-Hohenschönhausen and an old transformer substation in a challenging back courtyard in Prenzlauer Berg.

LAVA: Man, Nature and Technology

Chris Bosse, Tobias Wallisser and Alexander Rieck founded LAVA [Laboratory for Visionary Architecture] in 2007 as a network of creative minds with a research and design focus. LAVA combines digital workflow, nature’s principles and the latest digital fabrication technologies with the aim of achieving MORE WITH LESS: more (architecture) with less (material/energy/time/cost).

+ All images & drawings courtesy LAVA

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Category: Architecture, Master Plan, Mixed Use

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