HISTAR® steel columns support Berlin Central Station

On its historical site in the Tiergarten District, west of Humboldthafen, one of Europe's largest train stations for long-distance, regional, and local transport was opened in 2006: the Berlin Central Station. ArcelorMittal HD columns in HISTAR® steel form part of the load bearing structure of this transportation hub.

Detailed information

The central design principle of the station, which is also called Lehrter Bahnhof, is the clear emphasis on the existing course of the railway tracks in the urban environment and the creation of a crossing point in an increasingly integrated Europe. Large, light-weight glass roofs as well as two intersecting office buildings translate these principles with architectural means.

The traffic of the train station is organised on three levels:

  • Level -2:  Long-distance and regional lines from north to south, underground line U5
  • Level ±0: Local public transport, individual transport (access road, short-term car park), bicycles and pedestrians, tourist transport (coaches)
  • Level +1: Long-distance and regional lines on the urban railway lines (S3, S5, S6, S7, and S9)

The new central station has a total floor area of 175 000 m2, with approximately 15 000 m2 reserved for shops and gastronomy. 50 000 m2 are provided as office space in the arch buildings, while 5500 m2 serve for operational railway use as well as 21 000 m2 as circulation area. The platforms cover an area of 32 000 m2, and the garage covers 25 000 m2.

The glazed halls

The platform hall, 430 m long and orientated in an east-westerly direction, is spanned with a large, light-weight glass roof with a length of 321 m. It intersects two buildings with their location and alignment defining the north-south part of the train station located underground. From an urban planning and architectural aspect, these so-called arch buildings form a unity with the glass halls of the train station.

The north-south station hall, 45 m wide and 159 m long, is located between these buildings and is also covered by a fine vaulted glass roof structure. The hall offers an inviting gesture towards the Moabit district on one side as well as the government district on the other; consequently, taking on an additional connecting function between the government district and the urban quarter.

The glass roof of the north-south orientated entrance hall is connected to the lateral arch buildings. The vaulted glass surface of the roof is supported by 4.7 m high fish beams resting on the external load-bearing structure of the arch buildings.

The glass roof structure of the east-west platform hall

The above-ground, curved urban railway bridges, running in an east-westerly direction, with a total of six tracks and three platforms located in between, are column-free and spanned with a light-weight shell construction that is vaulted in three directions.

The curved frames are positioned at a spacing of 1.5 m to 1.7 m in the longitudinal direction, which together with longitudinal frames located in between form almost square (respectively rectangular) net modules. Each of these modules is diagonally braced with cables and covered with glass. The combination of vaults, longitudinal beams, and diagonal cables forms a shell-like structure.

The underlying idea of the climate concept is the air-exchange by means of natural ventilation. Supported by the curved form of the glass roof, the heated air in the interior rises to the top. Cool, fresh air is led into the building in the eaves area, whilst the warm, used air escapes through awning windows in the ridge. Corresponding to the "weather envelope" concept, a single glazing was planned for the east-westerly roof structure. In order to achieve an improved interior climate, the glazing was completely made from sun visor glass. In the area of the most effective insolation angle, approximately 8.4 per cent of the roof surface in the south is covered with photovoltaic modules, which provide additional shading for the platform area.

The platform hall and the base building

The cruciform train station rests on a building base, which simultaneously integrates the dominant, diagonal buildings. The rectangular base is accessible on all four sides via stair links and offers open public spaces at a height of 4.43 m above street level, which are clearly separated from the circulation zones.

From an urban planning aspect, the building parts accommodated in the base serve for the integration between the cruciform hall ensemble and the urban district. Simultaneously, this adds further uses to the train station complex, giving an important impetus to the overall urban district.

Service and delivery functions are located in the base element on the eastern and western side. Large areas for shops are primarily realised on levels -1 and ±0 in the western part. Railway specific uses are located on the mezzanine -½. The control point of the station is also to be found in this location.

In the central area of the cruciform halls are large openings in the ceilings on all levels, which allow daylight to enter deep down to the underground platform levels that simultaneously ensure good spatial clarity and easy orientation.

Besides several staircases, six panoramic lifts designed as detached steel-glass structures provide a direct connection to the platforms in the north-south train station and the platform levels of the east-west urban railway line.

Corresponding to the circulation concept, the services and uses of Deutsche Bahn AG are located on levels +½, ±0 and -1, flanking the north-south orientated train station hall.

Four platforms with a width of 11.4 m each are planned for long-distance and regional transport in north-south direction on level -2, which is located 15 m below street level.

The arch buildings

Two 46-metre-high buildings bridge the east-west railway track, with the lattice structure of the facade reflecting the light-weight appearance of the glass station halls. The supporting steel structure of the buildingss is visibly positioned in front of the facade level, consequently defining the character of the north-south station hall. The external facade of the buildings forms an architectural unity with the train station hall as it serves as a joint external wall on levels ±0 to +4.

In the area of the urban railway bridge, a cantilevered building structure over 87 m is realised on levels +7 to +10. Load transfer for the bridge element is provided via an external steel framework across the complete bridge height, integrating external columns and beams.

Access to the train station and the buildings has taken reference from the surrounding urban conditions. The main address of the arch buildings as well as the entrances to the train station hall are located on level ±0 and therefore on street level. The access at each front side is via the forecourt to the north and south.

The buildingss are both divided into two clearly separated functional areas. Primarily railway-related fields of commerce, gastronomy, and services are located in the lower levels ±0 and +½, as is the case in the circulation level -1 of the train station. They are assigned to the roofed glass hall of the train station from where they are accessible.

Nine of the ten storeys of the buildings located above are designed for a flexible office use. The facade grid of 1.45 m allows for a flexible division of plans: small office units are possible as is the organisation of combination or open-plan offices. A connection of different levels via internal staircases makes a further spatial extension of single primary users possible.

Project information

  • Berlin
  • Germany
  • Architect:
    Meinhard von Gerkan and Jürgen Hillmer gmp
  • Competition: 1993, 1ºPrize
    1996 - 2006
  • Client:
    Deutsche Bahn AG
  • Photographer:
    Roland Horn and Marcus Bredt