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Living Tree

What is the perfect lobby concept for the Radisson Collection Hotel in Berlin's DomAquarée? Following the unexpected bursting of the originally housed aquarium, there can only be one answer: the sustainable and contemporary "Living Tree."



The Radisson Collection Hotel located in Berlin’s DomAquarée is launching with a new lobby concept. The “Living Tree,” designed by dan pearlman, features a 16-meter-high “vertical garden” extending up to the sixth floor and covering approximately 120 square meters, which will serve as the new focal point of the hotel lobby. By summer, nearly 2,000 plants from 22 different species will be planted on 36 tree-like vertical slats and illuminated in varied ways depending on the time of day. The “Living Tree” will create a unique atmosphere in the lobby and in the newly redesigned bar area of the hotel, providing particularly spectacular views for guests in rooms facing the interior.

The sophisticated design of the “Living Tree,” with a towering trunk 6.5 meters in diameter, is crowned with an abstract treetop extending up to the transparent roof of the atrium at a height of 24 meters and a diameter of 20 meters. The natural vegetation changes its harmonious appearance as the plants grow, not only creating a special stay experience but also maintaining a pleasant indoor climate through its integrated irrigation system and acting as a green air filter that efficiently absorbs reverberation and noise. By its official opening at the end of 2024, the “Living Tree” concept is expected to become more lush and attractive day by day.

Sustainability, in terms of resource use, operation, and the subsequent maintenance and care of the vertical garden by climbers, is a key theme of this artistic installation. The concept intentionally incorporates the supporting structure of the former large aquarium. The aquarium unexpectedly burst in December 2022, causing significant damage to the hotel lobby of the Radisson Collection and numerous surrounding shops. The remaining 12-meter-high base of the former AquaDom made of 150 tons of concrete was deliberately preserved, thus preventing the release of approximately five tons of CO2 contained in it. Instead, this horizontal base now provides a home for around 600 plants and trees. “By repurposing the base as a foundation for the ‘Living Tree’, we were able to avoid high CO2 emissions that would have resulted from demolition, transport, and disposal,” says Lars Kirmse, Head of Asset Management North at Union Investment, who is responsible for the DomAquarée. In addition to preserving the supporting structure, former technical infrastructures such as technical rooms and sewage pipes are also being reused for the new concept. “At the Radisson Collection Hotel in Berlin, the ‘Living Tree’ will be a new highlight in our lobby. Sustainability is an essential part of the Radisson Collection brand, and we are very pleased that the new lobby concept embraces this theme,” says Yilmaz Yildirimlar, Area Senior Vice President of the Radisson Hotel Group. The decision to reuse the existing infrastructure is not only resource-efficient and economical but also ensures that the planned reopening date of the hotel with the new highlight in the lobby can be met. The “Living Tree” is specially showcased through a smart and dynamic lighting concept with efficient, controllable LED spotlights, allowing for the vertical garden to be staged in various lighting moods and optimally supporting plant growth. The selection of plants was especially focused on suitability for indoor greening, making the “Living Tree” a living and growing ecosystem that could potentially expand thematically throughout the entire district. Our Destination Development expert and creative director Karen Klessinger adds, “Building within the existing structure and reusing existing architectural elements is a matter dear to our hearts. This is demonstrated by our commitment to the Association for Building in the Existing Structure, of which we are founding members. From the beginning, we therefore recommended integrating the still usable remnants of the former aquarium into the new format as much as possible for sustainability reasons, while simultaneously striving to create a bold, new ‘business card’ for the hotel, adhering to all technical, temporal, and budgetary specifications, and coordinating ideas with owners and tenants. With the ‘Living Tree,’ we have succeeded in combining these demands in a lively, biophilic concept—a logistical masterpiece of high complexity. Now we hope that the sustainability strategy will also make an impact on the surrounding district and ideally lead the way for the future orientation of the area as a whole. For me, the ‘Living Tree’ stands primarily as a ‘Super Sign’ for a green future of this place, perceived by people as a ‘Happy Place’ and allowed to radiate into the city as such.”

Thank you to the dan pearlman brand architecture team including Karen Klessinger, Marius Bell, Andrea Jacob, Pauline Pommerenke, Suriya Poieam, and Elena Schlöndorff.