General Refurbishment of Haus der Berliner Festspiele – June 2020 to February 2022

Haus der Berliner Festspiele

Press release from 8 May 2020

This June, the final phase of technical and energy-related general refurbishments of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele at Schaperstraße 24, which were initiated in 2010, will begin. Due to the finalisation of these measures, it will be necessary for the festival and event operations to be carried out in external venues.

According to the current status and timing of the refurbishment measures, alternate venues will have to be rented for Jazzfest Berlin, which will take place in the autumn of 2020, as well as for the national contests Tanztreffen der Jugend, Treffen junger Autor*innen and Treffen junge Musik-Szene. These alternative venues will include silent green Kulturquartier, Uferstudios in Wedding, Kulturzentrum Weiße Rose in Schöneberg and noisy rooms in Friedrichshain. The house will be available once more for film screenings of the Berlinale in February 2021. The following festivals MaerzMusik and Theatertreffen and the national contest Theatertreffen der Jugend will also be able to take place at the Haus der Berliner Festspiele. Festivals and national contests planned for the autumn of 2021 will once more have to be held elsewhere.

The building, based on designs by architect Fritz Bornemann and opened as the “Theater der Freien Volksbühne” in 1963, is one of the outstanding theatre buildings of post-war modernity and is under protection, as is Fritz Bornemann’s larger theatre building, the “Deutsche Oper”. There have been no major renovation measures since the building opened. In order to provide the high multi-functional demands of modern festival and touring operations required by Berliner Festspiele, which have been located in the building since 2001, out-of-date stage and maintenance technology were modernised between 2009 and 2011 with funds from the federal Stimulus Package II.

The original construction was carried out in a very simple way, regarding both construction and statics, with low costs and simple materials. This means that in order to be maintained, reconstruction or replacement of materials has become necessary. Urgently required refurbishment measures to the building’s exterior – particularly regarding acoustic and thermal insulation – were already considered during the first phase of refurbishments. But more extensive planning only became possible in January 2014, when the building became the property of the federal government. KBB (Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin GmbH, Federal Cultural Events in Berlin, ltd.) had already committed itself to the European Union’s annual EMAS-Certification (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) in 2013, and thus to sustainable ecological management. The technical and energy-related refurbishment of the Haus der Berliner Festspiele marks an important factor for sustainable and efficient property operations of KBB. In August 2017, the planning process for construction on the Haus der Berliner Festspiele was concluded, the building application was submitted and, following a public tendering procedure, the firm of Numerich Albrecht Klumpp Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH were commissioned with the planning and execution of the measures by the Institute for Federal Real Estate (BImA).

In deference to performance operations, the refurbishment process has been organised in several construction phases: As a first step, measures to upgrade the roof of the box office foyer with regards to energy-consumption and statics were carried out in the summer of 2018. In 2019, the eastern and western facades, the roof areas, the stage tower and the side stage were refurbished in accordance with regulations for the protection of historical buildings, and drainage facilities for the exterior areas were installed. By adding heat recovery and insulation, the air conditioning and heating systems were brought up to the latest standards. Currently, the remaining facades and the stage entrance are being refurbished and the ventilation system is being replaced. From June 2020, the interior office areas will be worked on. Alternative offices (Rankestraße 5/6) have been rented for the staff of Berliner Festspiele for interim use. The refurbishment measures are expected to be completed in February 2022.

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