25. Origin of the Berlin office

Twenty-five years is another statistic, one of many we handle every day, but to appreciate what this means we just have to pause for a moment, look back, and consider our experiences of last quarter century. For some of our younger colleagues, this time period might be span most of their years!

For a company is not very different. In the end, it is built on the work of people who have worked since its founding, and who have contributed over the years. In an international company like ours, this group of people embrace different nationalities and collaborations across between different countries.  This collaboration allows us now to celebrate our anniversary. The countdown in the history of these twenty-five years of the Berlin office, will tell the story of the people who have made it possible, from the origin to the present days. As every good story has always a beginning. Let’s see how all got launched.

The origin

The origin of our Berlin office goes back to the early 1990s when we began working for the US hotel group Choice International. By 1991 we already had a working relationship with this client in the UK, but they were keen to expand into Germany and to take advantage of the opportunities that were arising from German reunification. Choice International struggled to find suitable German architects and invited Househam Henderson to support them, awarding us for three projects, located in Jena, Troisdorf and Peine. With the help of two German nationals based in Winchester; Ulrich Sichart and Birgit Dunhill, and -newly appointed- Eddie Miles, located in Berlin, we began our German business.

First location of Berlin office in Rheinstraße 45.

Our first office was a rented desk in the offices of Bernd Tibes, in Dominicusstraße, an architect known to Chris Henderson. We were soon in self-contained offices, from where we completed the hotel projects and moved on the work in the telecommunications sector. As the business grew we moved on to larger offices in a former optical works in Rheinstraße in 1994.

Opening party, Rheinstraße 45.

In 1997 Eddie returned to the UK to establish the London office, handing over to another ex-pat, Hazel McFarlane.

Hazel’s tenure was fairly brief and her impact on the business was  slight, other than her ability to spot talent as it was Hazel who appointed Leo Faoro. Leo quickly established himself, not only as a good architect, but also as an international team-player, spending some time working out of our London office.

Mazel McFarlane

Hazel was followed by Ian Hendry in 1998, our last ex-pat office head, although one with a long career in Germany as an architect. As Ian’s family home was in Krefeld, he was keen to set up a second German office closer to home and by 2000, Househam Henderson were established in Düsseldorf, as well as Berlin. The two offices proved difficult to sustain and the dot-com crash of first years of 2000’s, saw us closing Düsseldorf office in 2003, and consolidating to business back to Berlin under Leo’s direction.

Leo Faoro (around year 2002)

But this is only the beginning! How was this time, where was located the next office, which projects they developed, and how other colleagues arrived to the office still must be told.
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