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MUDD 21 - City Visions II

“Der Kiez” and the Urban Masterplan Felix Bentlin and Scott Hawken

Global cities such as San Francisco, Sydney, New York and London are finding themselves in the grip of housing crises as their very success drives up real-estate prices and affordable housing evaporates. Sydney trails Hong Kong in number one spot as the most unaffordable city in the world for both renting and buying a house. This is not simply a factor of global markets but a combination of regressive policies that favour the construction of the wrong type of housing and the wrong housing markets. The result is an exclusive cityscape where affordable housing is pushed to the periphery of Sydney’s large urban footprint. In contrast Berlin is a model city for dealing with such housing problems even though it has not yet resolved its current formidable housing shortage. Once an outlier on the periphery of global networks, Berlin now finds itself as a desirable global location for investment. It is an island of opportunity in Europe’s desperate economic landscape and beckons as a liveable and welcoming place for both young creatives, vulnerable migrants and waves of refugees. What is clear to outsiders is that Berlin’s incisive historical consciousness and history of resilience, offer clear-eyed and fair strategies on how to deal with such pressures. Berlin is therefore the perfect laboratory for studying the technical design challenges of building mass housing, the social challenge of creating neighbourhoods, the financial challenge of making them affordable, and the political challenge of facilitating both diversity and cohesiveness. In November 2015 mass housing, housing affordability and neighbourhood design were topics for a shared exercise between students from the MUDD program at UNSW and students of the TU Berlin Urban Design Studio. Titled “Housing for the Masses: Old Ideas, New Forms of Housing” the joint studio focused on the development opportunities latent within the desirable nineteenth century ring of development around the historical centre, known as the “The Wilhelmine Ring”. This belt of development, characterised by radial streets and ring roads, irregular grids and squares together with Berlin’s first modern system of water supply, sewage and drainage, was planned by City Engineer and Building Director James Hobrecht (1825-1902) as one of the notable 19th century expansion plans from the same era as the Vienna Ringstrasse and Ildefons Cerdà’s Barcelona Eixample. When the plan was approved in 1862 a somewhat unintended consequence was that significant areas were filled out with dense tenements in an explosion of greed and speculation. Large parts of the ring became a landscape of exploitation, overcrowding and squalor that marred the reputation of its planner, Hobrecht. Today, however, with lower occupancy rates, the belt is amongst the most desirable

Felix Bentlin

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Dr. Scott Hawken

Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  
Mudd folio final 02 mar 2016  

City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...