The Initiative Bauen mit Backstein (Initiative Building with Brick), the organiser of the award, received 322 applications of projects completed between 2004 and 2008. The jury nominated 31 entries for the Fritz Höger Prize 2008 eventually awarding Chipperfield the €10,000 prize.
Am Kupfergraben 10 which is located on the Kupfergraben canal, overlooking the Lustgarten and the Museum Island in Berlin. As part of the cityscape, the composition of the four-storey gallery building reacts to its immediate historic context, while the scale of its window openings reflects the urban dimensions of a corner building.
As an urban infill, the new building connects with both of its neighbouring buildings with regard to their respective building heights and occupies the footprint of the preceding building (destroyed in the war), while at the same time developing its own sculptural quality. The facades are of brick masonry on reconstituted stone courses with no visible expansion joints, using salvaged bricks pointed with slurry. Large window openings reflect the urban scale of the site and define the composition of the facade, given structure by their untreated wooden sashes.
While solid materials that will age well characterise the exterior, the interior is defined by daylight and proportion. The building cores organise the space of the 5.5 metre high rooms. The simple floor plan varies throughout the four storeys depending on the form of the volume and the placement of the window openings. The gallery spaces are side lit from different directions, and daylight is controlled by interior folding shutters. The intention was to create a series of well proportioned and well lit rooms for living, working, or showing art – in a townhouse dedicated to the arts and directly related to the cultural heart of the city.