The LUX is introducing an extraordinary new type of architecture to Berlin. Is the city ready for such an ambitious project?
Martinez: Most of the people who come to Berlin, whether young or old, are very open-minded. That is important if you want to introduce this type of architecture. Moreover, the center of Berlin is undergoing development. This square here was laid out barely two years ago, and construction has been going on everywhere in Mitte over recent years. Just a few years ago many of the shops were closed, but now there are cafés, restaurants, culture.
Did the city greet you and the project with open arms?
Reguero: The district and the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung (Senate department for urban development) were very open to a proposal of this type. If we had tried to put up a building like the LUX in Paris, for example, they would have thought we were crazy. It was different here.
Do you have to observe strict guidelines?
Reguero: Of course there are guidelines! This square has its own development plan. The square meters, the cubic content, the inner courtyard, that type of thing was prescribed. We had a good, open dialogue with the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung and the district of Mitte about how we would implement the project. Another requirement was to have commercial space on the ground floor. This means that a new neighborhood will gradually arise with the shops. Many people work here, and thus far they’ve always had to go to Friedrichstrasse for their shopping.
How is the LUX addressing its surroundings in Berlin-Mitte?
Martinez: We may have an extremely modern concept here, but these ideas of openness and transparency were put into practice just a few hundred meters away more than ten years ago, by Norman Foster with the dome of the Reichstag.
The LUX is going up in a top-end location. How did you acquire this spot?
Reguero: Mr. Martinez came to Berlin back in 2007 to do another construction project, a pre-war building in Charlottenburg, just a small modernization job. We then looked for a new exciting project. And what could be more exciting than here in Mitte?
Martinez: A lot of people doubted that anyone would buy apartments like this in Berlin. They kept saying that “Germans only want to rent.” But we didn’t want to believe that.
Reguero: When we were asked whether we wanted to build something on this triangle between the Brandenburg Gate, the Friedrichstrasse boulevard, and the Spree River, we could hardly believe our ears. Of course we wanted to build something here! An incredible number of new things will be going up here.
The LUX will have a concierge, which is a special service. What does a concierge do?
Reguero: A concierge is especially interesting for customers who are not always in Berlin and have questions like: Who will take care of cleaning the apartment, watering the plants, collecting the mail? Customers should feel certain that everything is taken care of, whether they are here or someplace else. Does something need to be dry-cleaned? They’d like to send flowers somewhere, they need a rental car, or concert tickets even if it has long since been sold out – that’s when they call the concierge, who will handle it. Like they do over at the Adlon.
Many people in their early 20s think Berlin is extremely hip. Are other age groups also as interested in the city?
Reguero: We don’t have too many 22-year-old students among our customers …
Martinez: But a 26-year-old from London who absolutely wants to move to Berlin!
Reguero: Right. But you know, customers in their mid-50s, who live, let’s say, near Zürich and want to have a pied-à-terre in central Berlin are just as delighted with this city as younger people are. Berliners are sometimes not even aware of the fact that, metaphorically speaking, they live right in the center of Europe. I think there’s no city in Europe right now that is more interesting, popular, and trendsetting. And that’s not going to change any time soon.