Prototype for a Supermarket without Packaging

Client: Original Unverpackt GmbH
Location: Berlin, Germany
Date: 2014

Original Unverpackt is the first supermarket chain in Germany to eliminate single-use, disposable packaging from the consumer experience. Designed by the architects at Nau2, their first store in Berlin’s Wiener Strasse creates a new market and platform to reimage the shopping experience. The average German creates 250 kg of household waste per year, and Original Unverpackt looks to change that.

Set in a storefront that began its life nearly 100 years ago as a butcher’s shop and which spent the last three decades as a factory for futons and mattresses, Nau2’s approach to the space began with OU’s concept of “precycling” – reusing rather than replacing. The old decorative tiles of in the shop’s front room, which had been partially covered with wallpaper, were cleaned and repaired, and the original crown molding and flooring touched up.

In addition to the tiled front room, a secondary layer of inspiration came from the fact that this first store serves as a test bed for new technologies. Drawing from the turn of the century laboratories, Nau2’s design makes use of industrial and scientific forms. Large welded steel shelves along the walls carry nearly 400 kg each of dry products, with rows of gravity-fed bulk bins suspended along a custom-built rail system. Tables are created from massive, new growth wood legs and standard industrial steel angles. Echoing the front room’s tiled walls, the rear space’s table and wall surfaces are clad with white ceramics making for glossy and easily cleaned surfaces. With a nod to the past, Nau2’s design tries to reimagine what a future without plastic waste might look like.

© Jan Bitter