Modular construction for refugee shelter as sustainable infill development in Berlin
a Workshop with students from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in collaboration with the University of the Arts (UdK), Berlin and KU Leuven.
In 2015 Germany took in over 1 million “newcomers” primarily from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Berlin, already experiencing a housing shortage even without additional new arrivals, needs innovative models for temporary and permanent shelter to accommodate the newcomers quickly in decent housing, while also taking a long view on sustainable growth for future generations and societal groups. In this workshop we teamed up with students from Berlin and recent newcomers to develop convincing concepts for housing that can be built fast, and become an integral part of the neighborhood in the long run. As a site for this experiment, the workshop studied two sites in Lichtenberg, a district in the Eastern part of Berlin, set within the context of tower-in-the-park development, built in the second half of the 20th century. The neighborhood consist primarily of prefab concrete buildings (“Plattenbau”), which were developed by the socialist East German government using WBS70, a standardized offsite construction system.
Discussion with service providers at the emergency shelter Stresemannstrasse
Site visits to experimental housing projects as well as visits to current emergency shelters provided input for negotiating a balance between shared and private spaces, between off-site and on-site construction and for thinking of integration as interaction. Based on this research the projects tried to strike a balance between offering privacy, while creating shared spaces to be cost-effective. Within the particular context of tower-in-the-park developments, the projects also sought to integrate retail or services that offer opportunities for newcomers while adding vibrant urban spaces to the neighborhood. The city of Berlin is preparing to build as many as 60 new shelters for refugees using modular construction (Modulare Unterkünfte für Flüchtlinge or MUF) that could eventually be utilized as social housing after minor modifications.
talking about living spaces with newcomers at the emergency shelter Ruschestrasse in Berlin Lichtenberg
All of the student projects responded to this idea with suggesting that housing should not be limited to refugees even in the initial phase, but should welcome a variety of residents.
Kaja Kühl, Adjunct Associate Professor, GSAPP
Katharina Rohde, PhD Cand., KU Leuven
Oliver von Spreckelsen, Assistant Professor, UdK Berlin
Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
KU Leuven, Dep. of Architecture, OSA Research Group Urbanism & Architecture
UdK Berlin, Chair for Architectural Design & Construction, Prof. B. Götz
Participants: Rebecca Book, Christa Elizabeth Beckmann, Asem Khen, Diandra Cohen, Jessica Cruz, Tobias List, Katrin Bozeniec, Shu Du, Maik Welfenbach, Emad Barqawi, Hussam Jabr, Yuanyi Zhang, A.L. Hu, Sebastian Madre, Majd Alskeif, Michael Nickerson, Lia Soorenian, Lama Sulaiman, Karol Stern Rull