Sauerbruch Hutton

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GSW Headquarters building in Berlin. The windows are polychromatic pastel hues of orange and rose when the window shades are closed.
Part of Sauerbruch Hutton's extended and renovated GSW Headquarters building in Berlin

Sauerbruch Hutton is an architecture practice based in Berlin, Germany. It was founded by Matthias Sauerbruch and Louisa Hutton in 1989. The firm creates functional, sensual and conscientious architecture with individuality and personality. The practice is noted for its synthesis of colour in the design process,[1] and for the use of fluid curvilinear forms. The firm’s architecture is also known for its technical innovation and environmental sustainability, particularly double-skin facades on tall buildings, with the GSW Headquarters in Berlin (1991) and KfW Westarkade (2010) in Frankfurt as examples.

The practice is led by Matthias Sauerbruch, Louisa Hutton and Juan Lucas Young.


Matthias Sauerbruch (b. 1955[2]) studied architecture at Berlin’s Hochschule der Künste (now Berlin University of the Arts) and at the Architectural Association in London, graduating in 1984. He has worked at Rem Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture in London, leading the House at Checkpoint Charlie project. He has maintained an involvement in teaching throughout his professional career, having held professorships at the University of Virginia, the State Academy of Art and Design in Stuttgart and Berlin Technical University. In 2005 he was appointed Kenzo Tange Visiting Design Critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is a grandson of the surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch.

Louisa Hutton (b. 1957[2]) completed her undergraduate degree at Bristol University and later graduated from the Architectural Association. She worked at the offices of Alison and Peter Smithson and has taught at the AA, the University of Virginia and Harvard University.

Early work[edit]

The firm’s first offices were located in London, where both founders were engaged in teaching roles.[citation needed] Many of their first commissions were in relatively confined urban areas, such as L House in London. A typical Victorian terrace, this was the practice’s first essay in applied colour. The architects used colour to visually expand the cramped spaces.[3]

The firm completed competition entries for Paternoster Square in London (1989), Tokyo International Forum (1989) and the Junction Building in Birmingham (1989). These schemes all offered socio-culturally and environmentally sustainable alternatives to the conventions in architecture and planning at the time.[4]

The GSW Headquarters[edit]

The GSW Headquarters is situated 250 meters from Checkpoint Charlie.[5] It was the first tall building to rise in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall.[citation needed] The winning competition proposal by Sauerbruch Hutton was a critique of the "Critical reconstruction" established by Hans Stimmann, Berlin's building director from 1991 to 2006.[6]

The GSW Headquarters has double-skinned facades.[7] The system of blinds on the west facade plays an important role in controlling solar gains and reduces the use of artificial heating and cooling. Polychromy was a key feature of the blinds.

Recent works[edit]

Cologne Oval Offices on Gustav-Heinemann-Ufer, Cologne - completed in 2010

Their work for GSW gained Sauerbruch Hutton considerable renown and established their worldwide reputation.[citation needed] In the works that followed, they continued to develop their use of colour as a building material on projects throughout Europe. The Federal Environmental Agency in Dessau (2005), among their largest projects to date, uses coloured panels which pick out colours from surrounding buildings to help root the massive scheme.[4] A serpentine plan fosters a personal, corporeal perception of the building as one walks along its length – an uncommonly sensuous gesture for an office building.[8]

An inventive spirit pervades all of the practice’s work, resulting in a portfolio of prototypical and thoroughly original architecture.[citation needed] Printed glass emerged as one of the practice’s main research interests, with their Pharmacological Research Laboratories (2002) and Jessop West (2008) testing new potential for the material. In 2008, with the Brandhorst Museum, Sauerbruch Hutton also began exploring the applications of glazed ceramic as a construction material.

In the last decade the practice has worked outside of Germany on projects in England, Finland, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The studio’s contribution to Maciachini, a large urban renewal scheme in Milan, opened in May 2010.


[9] The firm's GSW Headquarters was nominated for a Stirling Prize in 2000, and the practice is a three-time nominee for the Mies Van Der Rohe Award, most recently in 2011 for the KfW Westarkade in Frankfurt am Main.

For their work, Louisa Hutton and Matthias Sauerbruch were awarded the Erich Schelling Prize for Architecture (1998).[10] The firm also won the Fritz Schumacher Prize in 2003. They have received other awards for individual buildings.[9]


Museum Brandhorst Munich, 2008
  • L-House, London (1991)[1]
  • H-House, London (1995)[1]
  • Photonic Centre, Berlin (1998)[1]
  • Zumtobel Staff Showroom, Berlin (1999)
  • N-House, London (1999)[1]
  • GSW Headquarters, Berlin (1999)[1]
  • British Council, Berlin (2000)
  • BMW Event & Delivery Centre, Olympic Park, Munich (2001 competition, 1st Prize)
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2001 competition, 1st Prize; project cancelled)
  • Experimental Factory, Magdeburg (2001)
  • Pharmacological Research Laboratories, Biberach (2002)[11]
  • Town Hall, Hennigsdorf (2003)
  • High-bay Warehouse for Sedus Stoll AG, Dogern(2003)
  • Fire and Police Station for the Government district, Berlin (2004)
  • Federal Environmental Agency, Dessau (2005) [12]
  • Municipal Savings Bank, Oberhausen (2008)
  • Museum Brandhorst, Munich (2008)
  • Jessop West, Sheffield (2008)
  • Cologne Oval Offices, Cologne (2009)
  • Maciachini, Milan (2010)
  • Türkentor, Munich (2010)
  • KfW Westarkade, Frankfurt (2010)
  • ADAC Headquarters, Munich (2012)
  • Saint-Georges Centre, Geneva (2011)[13]
  • Zac Claude Bernard, Paris (2011)
  • University Building, Potsdam (2011)
  • Brückenschlag Parish Church, Cologne (2011)
  • Offices for Munich Re, Munich (2013)
  • Ministry of Urban Development and the Environment, Hamburg (2013)
  • M9 Museum, Venice-Mestre (2013)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Rattenbury, Kester; Rob Bevan and Kiernan Long (2004). Architects of Today. Laurence King. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-1-85669-492-6. 
  2. ^ a b "Matthias Sauerbruch". Mapolis Magazin - The magazine for architecture. undated. Retrieved 28 December 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Asensio, Paco; Ana Cristina G. Cañizares (2001). London Apartments. teNeues. p. 294. ISBN 3-8238-5558-1. 
  4. ^ a b Sauerbruch, Matthias; Louisa Hutton (2006). Sauerbruch Hutton: archive. Lars Müller. p. 21. ISBN 978-3-03778-083-1. 
  5. ^ Map showing route from GSW Headquarters to Checkpoint Charlie
  6. ^ Sauerbruch, Matthias; Louisa Hutton (2000). GSW headquarters, Berlin, Sauerbruch Hutton Architects. Berlin: Springer. p. 13. ISBN 3-907078-14-4. 
  7. ^ Crisinel, Michel; Rob Bevan and Kiernan Long (2007). Glass & interactive building envelopes. IOS Press. p. 6. ISBN 1-58603-709-9. 
  8. ^ Pure and simple: Sauerbruch Hutton's headquarters building, for Germany's Federal Environment Agency, is a model of integration..The Architectural Review, July 1st 2005
  9. ^ a b>
  10. ^
  11. ^ (Architectural Review August 2003)
  12. ^ Architectural Review (July 2005)
  13. ^ e-architect profile

External links[edit]