Berlin’s Luxury Arrival

The opulent developments that are turning Germany’s capital into a newly hot real estate boomtown.

For years, Berlin has been a hub for both alternative culture and affordable living. But if some of the capital’s most recent real estate developments are any indication, the latter is changing fast. Take Eisenzahn 1, a residential project in the Berlin-Wilmersdorf area, where developer Ralf Schmitz is taking things up a notch in collaboration with Italian luxury leather-goods manufacturer Bottega Veneta, outfitting the neoclassicist building’s lobby and full-floor penthouse with
 the company’s sought-after home collection. Over in formerly gritty East Berlin, David Chipperfield is erecting Palais Varnhagen, a 52-unit hôtel particulier designed in the architect’s signature pared-down modernist style. But the real standout of Berlin’s evolution might be Daniel Libeskind’s 73-unit Sapphire project. Located in the northern part of Mitte on a lot immediately adjacent to where the wall once stood, it is the Polish-born architect’s first major Berlin project since completing the famed Jewish Museum in 2001. The Sapphire’s ceramic-titanium facade bends and flexes, its vertical axes careening left and right. Berlin’s rents might be on the rise, but at least things remain culturally interesting.