The architecture office AllesWirdGut
(based in Vienna and Munich) won an urban planning ideas competition, organized by the Berlin HOWOGE housing company, with a multifaceted urban expansion concept and took first place.
The idea of the competition was to initiate a professional discourse on future requirements for urban districts on the suburbs of Berlin, Germany - detached from an exact location and the associated specifics.
The focus of the task was on future-oriented and sustainable considerations on modularity, identity and flexibility of building types, the so-called puzzle pieces.
Urban design puzzle - urban design competition
Islands for the suburbs
Berlin is growing. Against the backdrop of steadily rising demand for affordable housing, the municipal housing company HOWOGE recently launched an ideas competition for urban neighborhoods in Berlin's suburbs. The competition was looking for urban expansion concepts that would consider modularity, identity and flexibility of development types in connection with a generous landscape area, independent of specific locations.
Based on the geographical concept of the archipelago, the winning design by AllesWirdGut envisions a collection of urban islands for the peripheral settlement areas of Berlin: Surrounded by a maximum of undeveloped land, neighborhoods condensed into manageable centers form a varied living space that promotes contact and social exchange.
The most valuable asset of the design is the public space between the buildings: the generous natural open spaces frame the units and orient them toward the surrounding neighborhoods. Each piece of the puzzle provides for 100 to 150 apartments and is defined by a central plaza. The neighborhood connects with all (eight) adjacent modules via this clearly formulated contact area.
For the greatest possible flexibility and density of experience, the design uses the potential of three open space systems: While the squares and alleys provide orientation as an urban system, its natural equivalent creates wide open spaces and courtyards that are intensively greened in the sense of high climate resilience. Elevated photovoltaic arrays on the roof surfaces generate electricity as a third open space system and provide shade for the (privately or semi-privately) used terraces and gardens below. All other aspects of the neighborhood - typology, density, grain, form, and precise arrangement of open spaces - can vary from puzzle piece to puzzle piece. In this way, a small-scale collage of heterogeneous spatial situations is created, which always respond to their respective surroundings as well. By building higher along roads or railroad tracks, for example, neighborhoods are protected from noise; by positioning parking garages on the center and city periphery, entire units can even be completely free of individual traffic, if desired.
To maximize public life, all buildings have a four-meter-high first floor for commercial, cultural or social facilities. The generous height of the two floors above creates special spatial qualities that can be used for a variety of purposes. The core apartments on the upper floors are compact and can be expanded - again in line with the design's increase in communal space - to include workshops, communal kitchens, offices or guest rooms on the first floor. Excellent, the jury also found:
"The work pursues two approaches in an extreme way that clearly distinguishes it from all other works. On the one hand, the radical reduction of the net building area in order to maximize public spaces and access areas. On the other hand, the intense exploration of the idea of modular urban design."