The Jewish School for Girls in Auguststraße was built in 1927/28 to plans by Alexander Beer, architect to the Jewish community, with 3,000 sq m of floor space for about 300 female pupils, and opened in 1930. It was one of the last pre-war buildings on the Berlin Jewish community’s terrain. After it was closed by the National Socialists in 1942 it was fitted out as a temporary hospital. The school was used by various Berlin grammar schools from 1950 to 1996 and has been empty since then.
The sculptural design of its street façade divides the school building into two sections: the projecting tower structure with large metal windows and the section featuring the main entrance, which is recessed inwards to the block edge. Both the street and courtyard façades are designed with dark iron bricks, rendered areas, painted wooden windows and dark steel windows.
The floors are connected by a lavish main staircase and a second staircase in the side wing. On the ground floor were the gymnasium, and also the head teacher’s and staff rooms, then on the upper floors came 14 classrooms, a large art room and also craft room and physics lab. The light corridors and staircases, and also the breaktime roof terrace for the classes on the upper floors are typical of school building developments at that time.
The declared aim of the present minimally invasive refurbishment and change of use by initiator Michael Fuchs and Grüntuch Ernst Architects was to stop the building falling into disrepair and at the same time to retain and strengthen its special aura. The work was carried out over a short period of 9 months and in close co-operation with monument preservation bodies.
The original façades and room divisions were retained and restored in the course of the restoration work. The staircase in particular can again be experienced as a lavish distribution area, despite all the new requirements and regulations.
The re-opening of the Former Jewish School for Girls in the Spandauer Vorstadt, part of the Mitte district in central Berlin, makes an important building with a chequered history accessible again and breathes new life into architecture as a cultural location.
Grüntuch Ernst Architects
Armand Grüntuch and Almut Grüntuch-Ernst
Tel +49 30 308 77 88
Project team: Florian Fels (management), Ulrike Gardeler, Anna Wolska, Daniel Strassburger, Kerstin Thomsen