Behind the scenes: How NEXT Berlin 2012 came to be

It’s always exciting when something that has been planned for quite a long time finally materialises itself in the physical world. Over the course of three days, we turned Station-Berlin from almost empty into a complete event setup. Have a look at the video to see what happened during these days in early May.

The event architecture was developed by raumlaborberlin. These smart group of architects worked both for re:publica and NEXT Berlin, giving us a chance to put into practice what seemed impossible when we first thought of it: to turn the re:publica location into the NEXT Berlin venue in no more than three days.

These two conferences, both the highlight events of the Berlin Web Week, bring together around 6.000 people to Berlin. But the two events have quite a divergent profile. While we could share a lot of infrastructure, the look and feel had to be completely different.

The first questions the raumlaborberlin team asked themselves were: What does post-digital mean for the interior design of an event? And since Station-Berlin is a huge venue, how to create the needed density, to avoid participants feeling lost in space?

Their answer was to re-think the whole space, define different zones and apply a new, additional scale to them. The huge, empty halls had to be atmospherically charged, rearranged and armed with a new organising logic.

As architects, the team had a close look at cities and a variety of landscapes. They finally settled with the metaphor of harbours, water and islands. The existing piers of the former mail distribution center would be complemented with new catwalks and islands.

The idea was to guide the visitor alongside those catwalks through the metaphorical water to the different islands. For these islands, the raumlaborberlin team came up with the untypical use of standard stage elements. This led to a very rough, pixelated look that fitted nicely with the Wilhelminian style of the building.

The design of the round, temporary rooms played with the difference of inside and outside. While black, calm and carefully designed on the inside, these rooms appeared rough from the outside, exposing the details of the construction.

With black as the basic colour, they created another contrast between the architecture and its use by exhibitors and participants likewise. Therefore, everything that was added to the basic setup and every participant gained a lively, colourful vibrancy.

The video not only shows the setup but also the two event days and the dismantling. While it’s just one part of the central hall, it still nicely illustrates the basic idea and how it was put into practice.

The raumlaborberlin team: Francesco Apuzzo, Christof Mayer, Andrea Hofmann, Andreas Krauth, and Claire Mothais.