Berlin, like many cities, is developing through cyclical modes of growth. Once, after New York and London, the 3rd largest city in the world, with a rich history of numerous building exhibitions Berlin was always close to the architectural avant-garde which included architectural expressions of modern and alternative lifestyles. The political division between east and west also challenged the architectural interpretation matching the different ideals of the respective social economical models.
Berlin after German reunification in 1990 was aiming again to be a modern city, if not a metropolis, which would offer spaces for all walks of life. The image of such a contemporary metropolis and the plan for an urban fabric, which would accommodate the current and future modes of life, had to be developed in parallel with the reconnection of east and west infrastructures.
Already before re-unification, both West- and East-Berlin fostered ideas how to rethink the city, mainly during the 1984 to 1987 International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Berlin-West. After the insertions of large scale residential housing block in open spatial configurations, the relationship between the building and the street, the public space, was reestablished on the basis of the historic 19th century European city. This model seemed to provide an ability to adapt to the changes which the contemporary society requested.
The historical layout of the city block was thus determined as basis for the restructuring of the city fabric.
Following these guidelines throughout the past two decades many formerly vacant sites within the inner city urban fabric have been redeveloped mainly with commercial and administrative functions and mostly upscale residential projects. A process which did not only complemented the city fabric, but also contributed to gentrification. Twenty five years after the reunification of the city the requirement to offer additional affordable housing is finally again pursued by the city planning authorities.
The summer academy a r s 15 tried to address this challenge by exploring a building typology which serves as an add on or plug in to existing rooftops of residential quarters built in the 1960s and 1970s. The challenge required the development of spaces which are primarily defined by their outer shell, their circulation system and their structural elements to allow a multitude of various work-life scenarios.
In cooperation with Wohnungsbaugesellschaft Berlin-Mitte (WBM), a r s 15 dealt with various design strategies for the flat roofs of a social housing development in Berlin Mitte. The buildings were designed to complement the city block, in the 60ies with prefabrication as an answer to build with reasonable costs affordable apartments. Today this offers the potential to add additional space on the roof to match the former building heights.
The WBM provided Q3A prefabricated buildings of their inner-city population at the Berlin Osthafen and the students worked on the designs for five weeks. Due to the high quality of the results, the WBM decided to launch an award for interior design. On the occasion of ars15 this was awarded for the first time.
In the future, this prize will be awarded annually to excellent works by young designers and architects, who deal innovatively and creatively with the topics of architecture, urban planning and home design. The prizes were handed over by WBM Managing Director Christina Geib.
The works were exhibited in the foyer of the International Trade Center Berlin.
© Josiah Ruhland, Tianhui Hou, Fanhor SanchezPatino, Alexandra Koval, Luiza Skrzypczynska, Chuky Hui
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