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 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. From 2012 to 2015 he was a guest professor at Berlin University of Arts Universität der Künste. He's a commissioner of the Zurich Building Council, a trustee of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and a Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. A member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin, in 2013 he was the curator of “Culture:City” [1], an exhibition shown at the Academy of Arts, Berlin and at Kunsthaus Graz that took a critical eye to the relationship between culture, architecture and urban development. Sauerbruch 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. She is a member of the Curatorial Board of the Schelling Architekturstiftung, and was a Commissioner at CABE and a member of the first Steering Committee for the Bundesstiftung Baukultur. In 2014 Louisa Hutton was elected as a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy of Arts.

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]

Early competition entries for Paternoster Square in London (1989), Tokyo International Forum (1989) and the Junction Building in Birmingham (1989) 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

In the works that followed, they continued to develop their expertise on sustainable building solutions as well as the use of colour as a building material on projects throughout Europe. The Federal Environmental Agency in Dessau (2005) was a benchmark in the design of sustainable office buildings.[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]

Printed glass emerged as one of the practice's research interests, with their Pharmacological Research Laboratories (2002) and Jessop West (2008) and Cologne Oval Offices testing new potential for the material. In 2008, with the Brandhorst Museum, Sauerbruch Hutton also began exploring the applications of glazed ceramic as a facade material which is being continued in the development of the M9 Museum in Mestre/Venice.

In the last decade the practice has worked outside of Germany on projects in the UK, Finland, France, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg.


The firm's GSW Headquarters won the Berliner Architekturpreis and Deutscher Architekturpreis, as well as several RIBA and AIA Awards and was nominated for a Stirling Prize in 2000. Several projects have been nominated for or reached the shortlist of the Mies Van Der Rohe Award. The Sitra Headquarters project received a 2011 Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction [2] and the KfW Westarkade received the 2011 Best Tall Building Worldwide Award. [3].

In acknowledgement of their built works Sauerbruch Hutton were awarded the Erich Schelling Prize for Architecture in 1998.,[9] the Fritz Schumacher Prize for Architecture in 2003, the International Honour Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2010 and the Gottfried Semper Architekturpreis in 2013.[4]


Museum Brandhorst Munich, 2008
ADAC Headquarters Munich, 2012
  • 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)[10]
  • 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) [11]
  • 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)[12]
  • Zac Claude Bernard, Paris (2011)
  • University Building, Potsdam (2011)
  • Immanuel Church and Parish Centre, Cologne (2013)
  • Offices for Munich Re, Munich (2015)
  • Kinetik, office building at Boulogne-Billancourt (2014)
  • Ministry of Urban Development and the Environment, Hamburg (2013)
  • M9 Museum, Venice-Mestre (2016)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Rattenbury, Kester; Rob Bevan; 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. n.d. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  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; 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. ^
  10. ^ (Architectural Review August 2003)
  11. ^ Architectural Review (July 2005)
  12. ^ e-architect profile

External links[edit]