The glass and perforated steel exterior of the Koolhaas's Dutch mission has a few sculptural touches - four bridges connecting the embassy to residential quarters and a protruding black box that hovers over a courtyard. More unexpected is the building's labyrinthine interior, with 23 split levels in what is formally an 11-floor structure suggesting a Cubist game. Walls of polished aluminum open to the touch of a button to reveal offices with angled ceilings and walls while floor and wall windows proclaim transparency.
The Dutch embassy was far enough away from the city's historic center to escape most building restrictions, but another embassy illustrates that respect for planning rules can also bring unfortunate results. In 1945, the Swiss embassy was the only building in a long row of 19th-century mansions to avoid destruction. Now once more the Swiss mission, it stands in strange isolation between the Reichstag and the new German Chancellery.
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