was stabilised and transformed with an intricate series of connected community roof spaces and glazed facades. Today, several apartments are part of the student housing scheme of Berlin’s Technical University. Other schemes included new schools (infilling the courtyards of housing blocks in new ways), new parks, landscaping and community projects. Some of these, which can’t be seen from the street as pieces of ‘architecture’ were important nonetheless – and sometimes marked a radical shift in thinking by allowing residents groups to rebuild their own buildings to fit with their own, often communitarian needs. The IBA program has an ironic legacy – the Berlin Wall fell before many of the projects were completed, and Kreuzberg suddenly found itself reconnected and at the centre of the city. In trying to save a district of the city that was seen as a failure, the IBA program in effect did much to revive an area that is increasingly the most sought-after place to live in Berlin, leading to a new influx of much wealthier migrants and a rapid process of gentrification. The positive legacies of the 1987 IBA for today’s Berlin include the return of perimeter block housing after the mid20th century experiment with modernist towers and slabs; and radical means of building procurement through direct action, now codified in the small but significant cohousing movement. Cohousing in Berlin embraces a range of alternative housing models and approaches. These include traditional and new style cooperatives, community-driven housing, former squats with acquired legal rights, self-build multi-housing, and architect-led creative alternatives. Many of these models overlap and are still a niche phenomenon but are usually “self-organised building groups” or “Baugruppen”. These groups organise finance, acquire sites and become developers but the fundamental impulse tends to be strong community ideals and the making of homes imbued with use-value, not investment properties positioned in the market for exchangevalue. The persistence of radical alternatives to untrammelled market forces remains one of the most powerful currents of Berlin’s urban culture. Jim Hudson is a London based writer on architecture and urbanism, author of the long-running blog ‘Architecture in Berlin’.
1987 Berlin International Building Exhibition (IBA) The 1987 Berlin IBA pursued two strategies directed by two organisational branches. In the mixed-use neighbourhoods of the eastern part of Kreuzberg, one branch introduced the principles of ‘careful urban renewal’, for which its head, Hardt-Waltherr Hämer (1922-2012), had already laid the foundations in the 1970s. Careful urban renewal meant renovation instead of demolition; it strove to avoid the displacement of residents and to retain the traditional finegrain functional mix of housing and workshops in the area, the so-called ‘Kreuzberg Mix’. This strategy concerned with the regeneration of the old historic building stock was called ‘IBA Altbau’. It could not work, however, in the western part of Kreuzberg, which had been much more severely damaged in the war. All that was left there was the grid of the baroque city extension, within which modernist agglomerations of large-scale housing projects had been built. This area provided a particular challenge. Here, the ‘IBA Neubau’ branch concentrated on experimenting with new forms of architecture and urban design without losing the connection with the past. Its director, the architect Josef-Paul Kleihues (1933-2004), had immersed himself in research on Berlin’s urban history for a number of years in preparation for this new task. He invented the method of ‘critical reconstruction’. This concept meant that, while employing new architecture, urban design was to follow the structural principles of what had been in place before wartime destruction. In the absence of pre-war buildings, the strategy therefore aimed for an orientation towards the historic pattern of streets and public spaces, parcels, building lines and heights, urban density, social mix as well as a mix of actors and architects. The term ‘critical’ meant keeping a critical distance to simply replicating the destroyed buildings. After the fall of the wall, this approach formed the basis of the 1996 ‘Planwerk Berlin’ strategy introduced and implemented by Berlin’s building director of the post-Wall era, Hans Stimmann. - Professor Karl Fischer
“The persistence of radical alternatives to untrammelled market forces remains one of the most powerful currents of Berlin’s urban culture”
Master of Urban Development
Published on Apr 26, 2016
City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...