FAQ

by Luis Alberto Martinez Riancho

A lively place where everyone is welcome – that is the vision for the new project at Hermannplatz. In its early years, the Karstadt building was very popular with residents and visitors alike; it was much more than a department store; it was a place to shop and especially to experience; a place that had something to offer everyone. Now the building will be redesigned with the aim of regaining its past popularity. The primary objective is to consider and reflect the interests and needs of the residents of Kreuzberg and Neukölln, and also visitors to the neighbourhood.

A mixed-use property is planned to make the building a lively place for the people. There won’t be a “classic mall” or an accumulation of large retail chains here. Karstadt will continue to provide local shopping amenities as a key part of the building. However, the current department store concept will be revised and adapted to trends such as online trading. This is the only way to ensure future viability for Karstadt and job security for its employees. In addition, further spaces will be created that will enable a wide diversity of use and reflect the everyday needs of people, for example offices, apartments, sports facilities and local institutions such as clubs and community facilities. The integration of local operators creates additional, important links to the local environment. Publicly usable areas, for example for cultural events, a large market hall and, last but not least, a roof terrace open to the public will make the building freely accessible to the neighbourhood and its visitors.


We want to return the building to what it used to be for the neighbourhood, the city and the people: a place where people enjoy spending time – to shop, eat, have a coffee or simply to linger, even without having to consume anything.

The aim of the project is to create a lively place for everyone on the site of the Karstadt building. To this end, a mixed-use property will be created that covers the interests and needs of the residents and visitors to Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Because they are the ones who bring life to the place and the new building is being built for them. In October 2019 we plan to start a dialogue process to engage with residents, local traders and visitors to Hermannplatz. The project will also implement the new Berlin guidelines for citizen participation and fully involve residents in the concept.


Our goal is to consider the interests and needs of Kreuzberg and Neukölln residents and visitors and to realise appropriate offerings. A mixed-use property will be created to achieve this. Local shopping amenities, retailers and Karstadt in particular will remain key elements of the building. In addition, further spaces will be created that will enable a wide diversity of use, for example offices, affordable apartments, kindergarten, community facilities and meeting places for local initiatives and clubs. The integration of local traders will preserve the local feel of the neighbourhood. Public usage such as cultural events, a market hall and a freely accessible roof terrace will make the building a place for everyone.


There will not be a shopping mall at Hermannplatz. This concept is neither in keeping with the times nor does it meet the needs of local residents. Neither will there be an accumulation of retail chains. On the whole, the existing retail offerings will not change: local shopping amenities provided by Karstadt and services will remain a central component. The aim is to create diversity of use, for example with space for offices, apartments, kindergarten, sports facilities, local initiatives or community facilities. Public usage is also planned, for example a market hall, a freely accessible roof terrace and cultural events.


Karstadt will continue to be a key part of the new building. The concept will strengthen Karstadt, secure its future and the jobs of the employees. In order to achieve this goal, the present Karstadt department store concept must be revised and adapted to future requirements.

We want to secure the jobs of the Karstadt employees during the building work and offer suitable interim solutions. We are currently holding talks with the works council about this.


The only major changes will be to the appearance of the building and an expanded offering. Local shopping amenities, retailers and especially Karstadt will remain central components. There are no plans to increase the retail space. The project creates the prerequisites for space that is urgently needed for social and cultural uses, for example a kindergarten or a medical centre. The realisation of state-subsidised apartments responds to the need for affordable housing. Public usage, for example a market hall, a freely accessible roof terrace and cultural events aim to turn the building into an attraction for the local neighbourhood and visitors.

Furthermore, there is an opportunity to develop Hermannplatz to make it a high-quality, traffic-calmed public space.


The current building is not very energy efficient. Even extensive renovations would only change this to a limited extent. The energy savings that can be achieved with a new building are so high that they would compensate for the new building after just 8 years. This is made possible by minimising the grey energy and an efficient and sustainable energy concept. In concrete terms, the energy balance of a new building would be positive after just 8 years.


The preservation order is very important to us.

We were able to win David Chipperfield Architects for the project as an architect’s office with extensive experience with preservation orders and a very careful approach.

The listed building dating back to 1029 at the corner of Hermannplatz and Hasenheide will be preserved.

Furthermore, we are in constant consultation at both district level and state level with the authorities responsible for the protection of listed historical buildings.


The redesign of the Karstadt building does not directly impact the traffic situation at Hermannplatz. Direct access from the underground station into the building will be maintained.

Irrespective of this, a separate project for a forward-looking mobility concept at Hermannplatz is currently being planned. The aim is to improve the quality of life and the quality of the environment around the square. The concept plans for a car-free space where the focus is on walking, cycling and public transport. Sharing services are also a key element of the concept. We want Hermannplatz to be a prime example of the traffic turnaround in Berlin.


In October 2019 we plan to start a dialogue process to engage with residents, local traders and visitors.

In addition, we support a comprehensive citizen participation process enabling residents to actively participate in the design of the project. For this process we need the support of the district of Kreuzberg. SIGNA, as the company responsible for the project, would like to encourage all local residents to participate in such a process as it offers a unique opportunity to actively shape a significant part of their neighbourhood.


SIGNA is the owner of the retailer Karstadt and the building at Hermannplatz. The company has set itself the goal of ensuring future viability for Karstadt Hermannplatz and making the building a lively place for the neighbourhood. The company has the necessary expertise for this: today, SIGNA is one of the leading real estate developers in Europe. The company develops and manages a comprehensive portfolio of exceptional real estate projects in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and in Italy.


All interested citizens can make contact with the project team: from October 2019 we will start a dialogue process and we will be available for discussions on site. In addition, we support a comprehensive citizen participation process enabling residents to actively participate in the design of the project. Such a procedure must be initiated by the district itself.