As one of the few historic buildings in Berlin that survived WWII, Linden Palais is a rare window into the city’s architectural past. Completed in 1908, the edifice — replete with ornate ceiling mosaics, neoclassical stucco, and historic marble inlays — formerly served as the French embassy. This heritage was a key inspiration for the building’s second life as a coworking space, designed by Copenhagen firm Norm Architects and operated by The Office Group (TOG).
“When looking for the right designers and architects, we make sure that their style fits the project in question. With classic buildings, it takes partners who respect the heritage we’re building on,” explains TOG’s Creative Director, Nasim Köerting. Norm Architects wholeheartedly embraced this approach, restoring and interpreting the building’s historic elements in a contemporary way.
Across its seven floors, Linden Palais offers coworking spaces that range from two to 95 workstations — and hot desks to dedicated private offices — each of which can be rented flexibly and adapted to changing requirements. In addition to areas for focused work, social and collaborative zones such as meeting rooms, loft-like lounges, open kitchens, a roof terrace, and a ground-floor courtyard round out the amenities. Membership includes everything from event spaces to post-commute showers and private phone booths for taking calls.
Throughout, a polished yet relaxed atmosphere sets the stage for productive work. In the lobby, the architects took inspiration from the prominent boulevard, Under den Linden, on which the building is sited, alongside some of the city’s most famous monuments. Evoking the row of street trees lined up along the thoroughfare, a colonnade and greenery imbue the foyer with an urban outdoor feel. Meanwhile, grey tiled floors convey a sort of indoor sidewalk, allowing the street to flow seamlessly inside.
This indoor-outdoor sensibility is echoed elsewhere in the space: Another colonnade marks the transition between the open public area and more enclosed work zones. Further hinting at the building’s urban context, the architects draw on the idea of an alleyway, with carefully controlled views concealing aspects of the space at first glance to foster a sense of ongoing discovery.
The architect approached the workspace’s design as that of a “heritage apartment.” “As we set out to create the concept for Linden Palais, we formed working titles such as ‘Kitchen’, ‘Library’ and ‘Living Room’ to always keep in mind the domesticity that we wanted to integrate in the working environment,” explains Sofie Thorning, a Senior Architect at Norm Architects.
The soothing, minimal interior palette — a hallmark of Norm Architects’ work — was inspired by the original entrance ceiling, made of marble, gold, wood and stone. A different colour is used as the base tone on each floor (including everything from the kitchen and bathroom stone to textiles and other materials) functioning as a subtle wayfinding device.
Existing architectural elements such as herringbone parquet floors, detailed ceiling and wall panelling, and arched windows are balanced with the clean lines of Scandi-style furnishings, contemporary lighting, and heavy drapery (chosen not just for its beauty but its acoustic properties in meeting rooms and other focused workspaces). Art, displayed on the walls and marble plinths, imbues the interior with a quiet luxury, while rugs and bookcases add warmth and a residential quality. Meanwhile, floor-to-ceiling windows bring in both nature and street life indoors.
The uppermost floor, dubbed The Parlour for its reference to traditional salons, is part of an extension designed by 2023 Pritzker Prize winner David Chipperfield. Here, dark finishes create a moody and masculine atmosphere that exudes old-world style. Slanted windows let in ample natural light, rendering the wooden lamella walls with a different appearance depending on the time of day. Set against the backdrop of the Berlin skyline, a rooftop terrace tops the extension, with planters, lounge furnishings and sunshades creating a cozy yet social atmosphere.
With its signature minimalist aesthetic, Norm Architects has given this heritage building a contemporary upgrade while staying true to its architectural history. Offering all the comforts of home and the perks of an office, Linden Palais is everything one could wish for in a coworking space — and then some.
Norm Architects reimagines the historic building with residential appeal to create an elegant new workspace for The Office Group.