Continental Europe’s largest department store, Berlin’s KaDeWe, will once again reinvent itself over the course of the coming years. Noted Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas will be in charge of the six-year project. Work is set to begin in the spring, and the major remodeling will cost an estimated €180 million, or $197 million.
The plan at KaDeWe, which is an abbreviation of Kaufhaus des Westens (Department Store of the West), is for four sections of reimagined elevators to make navigation easier for the tens of thousands of visitors who go to the west Berlin store on a daily basis. The building will be divided into four distinct shops, called quadrants, each geared to different target groups.
The project’s main aim is to make the shopping experience more in tune with the times, including taking the digital revolution into account. The store has a long history of braking new ground in the retail sector. It was considered one of the most modern retail institutions of its time when the merchant Adolf Jandorf opened KaDeWe just off Berlin's famous shopping street Kurfürstendamm in 1907 .
Faced with competition from many shopping malls today, the store now aims to add a new dimension to the shopping experience. Mr. Koolhaas’ vision is to provide busy city folk with a place that offers them peace and quiet. For a certain type of person, shopping, especially for luxury goods, is considered a pastime, a way of spending time to relax.
KaDeWe officials hope the new project and shopping environment will enable the store to remain one of Berlin’s main attractions.
The chief executive of the KaDeWe Group, André Mäder, wants to create worlds of shopping experience that combine pleasure with inspiration and entertainment. Leading interior designers are also supposed to increase the department store’s appeal via the remodeling, which will include larger display windows.
The existing vaulted rooftop restaurant will be replaced by a new construction. The new terrace will include an open-air courtyard with a garden that can be used as a venue for events, and the new configuration will also provide a look behind the scenes of the food-related spaces.
Mr. Koolhaas is considered a trailblazer of metropolitan architecture. A show devoted to his work was held in one of Berlin’s museums of modern art in 2003. He was awarded the Berlin Prize for Architecture for the new Dutch embassy building.
The project at KaDeWe comes at a time when many customers consider some shopping malls and legendary department stores, including some in the United States, a bit outdated.
The first expansion of the store took place in 1929-30. Reconstruction after the Second World War was completed in 1956. The sales floor space was expanded to 60,000 square meters (645,000 square feet) between 1990 and 1996, and KaDeWe underwent a €45 million renovation in 2007 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Five years later, an innovative floor for accessories was added.
KaDeWe officials hope the new project and shopping environment will enable the store to remain one of Berlin’s main attractions. Tourists make up 40 percent of the approximately 50,000 customers who visit the store daily.
Members of the “Long Night of Shopping” generation, who occasionally like to do their shopping with a glass of champagne in hand, can likely look forward to a new world of experience.
This article originally appeared in the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. To contact the author: [email protected]