From Module to Urban Quarter

 - 2 minutes read

Case Study Houses for the 21st-Century Berlin

in Cooperation with Buro Happold // The Happold Foundation



The site is located next to the former East-Berlin prestige boulevard Karl-Marx Allee and close to the Alexanderplatz. Protected by a big slab building, the green space floating in between the structures is being protected from all metropolitan emissions by a big slab building in the south. This setting creates almost a shielded scenery that reminds of a small paradise – a calm place where you can listen to the birds sounds which are sitting in the big, old trees between the GDR‘s housing solution. It might be not the most urban place in Berlin and the existing structure might lack on contemporary living qualities. Nonetheless the mostly long term inhabitants really enjoy living here.

In order to not destroy the identified qualities the new building proposal articulates as a high-rise typology. In this way the impact by the footprint to it‘s surrounding is as small as possible. At the same time it can house a large amount of new people in order to react to the great influx of population into the city.

By creating a tailor made computer script parametrical planning software we managed to arrange a wide variety of flat sizes on the tower layout. Each floor can fed with informations about the number and size of the apartments needed.

The whole scheme allows a big variety of flat sizes and configuations which are all thought in a modular system. Hereby all main elements can be prefabricated and afterwards just brought to site by truck.

In an evolutionary process the computer calculates the optimal solution for distributing the different apartments according to the predefined outline of the building core and footprint. Afterwards the architect had to fine tune the alignment of floor plans with the shafts for MEP as well as the construction grid.

By choosing industrial standardized materials we can reduce the price and construction time. The light, modular appearance transports the general way of fabrication into the architectural design of the building. The main three elements are glas, industrial frosted glas and zinc metal panels.

Since the building gets taller at this location than it‘s neighbors, the structure provides a common storey for activities on the first floor which rises higher than the surrounding buildings. The program ranges from sports to gardening and relaxing in the sauna.

The ground floor keeps it‘s space open to the public. It provides services like smaller shops and/or offices as well as some bike storage for the tenants.

To sum it up the buildings modularity combined with a rather pragmatic contextual approach and a robust scheme offers still a lot of flexibility for inhabitants occupation. If successful, this process – zooming from urban quarter down to building scale – have the chance to establish a prototype for contextual high rise implementations in urban areas of Berlin.

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