Louis Victor Robert Schwartzkopff was a modern man who spurned the conventions of his times to forge his own path.
Schwartzkopff, a German entrepreneur and founder of the Berliner Maschinenbau Actien Gesellschaft, a locomotive building company, was born in 1825 in Magdeburg. He trained as a railroad worker and engineer under August Borsig and later founded a railroad company of his own not far from the street that now bears his name. Iron casting and mechanical engineering were the twin pillars that made him a giant in the railroad industry. Louis Victor Robert Schwartzkopff was president of the National Association of German Industrialists and a member of the Prussian State Council. Schwartzkopff street in Berlin-Mitte was named in his honor in 1889. Louis Schwartzkopff died in 1892, but locomotives bearing his name ride the rails to this day.
While the namesakes of these Berlin streets have very different biographies, they are united in their desire to explore uncharted territory. At this site, the Viennese architects PPAG set themselves the task of realizing their ideas about changing residential needs and desires with the same spirit of discovery. The buildings Caro + Louis are the result.
The Oranienburger Vorstadt, named after the Oranienburg Gate, is a subdistrict of Berlin-Mitte that borders the district of Wedding. Over the course of the nineteenth century, it became an industrial center, earning it the now forgotten nickname “Feuerland” or Tierra del Fuego. Here iron foundries once crowded in with engineering plants. Louis Schwartzkopff’s factory was also located in the area. In the late nineteenth century, manufacturers moved northwards and factories were replaced by typical Berlin tenement blocks. The neighborhood was dominated by one of Berlin’s main railway terminals–first called Stettiner Bahnhof and later Nordbahnhof—and its expanse of tracks and facilities. The former railway property has been converted into a public park, and the old switch tower adjacent to Caro + Louis has recently been redeveloped to house mainly offices. What remains is excellent public transportation access to bus, tram, U-Bahn, and S-Bahn.
A place steeped in the past—where the present is lived. Here, directly adjacent to landmarked remnants of the Berlin Wall, contemporary living conditions are being constructed at the park which used to be no-man’s land—compelling, green, innovative, urban nature.
“Architecture is a science, not an art,” is the motto of Anna Popelka and Georg Poduschka. Their work focuses on contemporary buildings for living and learning. Their firm, entrusted with over 250 projects, sees itself as part of a global laboratory. The partners pour their hearts and souls into their work, engaging in research and development that has culminated in one-of-a-kind structures across the globe. Because “every house is built only once.”