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 is looking forward 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 requires 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.
Given that the embodied energy of build structures adds to a large extends to the “energy balance” of buildings, we would like to explore the relationship between zero energy operation of buildings and the “flexibility” of the designed spaces.
The embodied energy of a building is still a major factor regarding the energy balance of a building. Zero Net Buildings which are not able to adapt will lose their cutting edge once the layout of the building is no longer able to accommodate the needs of the occupants. Redundancy seems to be one requirement which allows for a well-integrated building.
Professor Dr. Michael Braungart, author of the book “Cradle to Cradle” outlined this challenge well when he pointed at the way nature works under pretty much the same conditions. He used the term effective versus efficient. A cherry tree would be efficient if it had only as much blossoms as there are cherries thereafter, instead there are many more which he considers effective.
Adaptability to change will be the main principle for design decisions. This is not only the case in terms of the space arrangements to accommodate different users but also with regard to sustainability issues. Mitigation and adaptation to a changing climate have a major impact on how the build environment eventually will perform as buildings need to achieve more with less. The result can be seen as a compromise between social, economic, environmental und individual needs.
The inherent quality of a building type allows for adaptation or not. Considering this potential we aim to explore the possibility to develop a design strategy which allows a building to perform under different climate conditions, to be more precise the one today and the one of the future. As Stephane Hallegatte, a French meteorologist outlined, it is no longer the question to build for one climate zone, instead, with the lifespan of buildings in mind, they need to be able to adapt and relate to two climate conditions: current and future.
The 2015 summer academy aims to detect those architectural elements in building typology, which have proven to withstand the continuous challenges of dynamic societies. While architecture magazines elaborate on zero carbon building standards, the public attention starts to address the challenges of global warming and an increasing world population. Attempting to adapt to a rapidly changing climate, architecture as a profession is more than ever challenged to create spaces, which cater to those constantly changing conditions. Demographic changes provide further challenges demanding reuse and reprogramming of building structures.
Architectural space, separated from the external environment, always provided the benefit of physical comfort. The effort of building walls, roofs, doors and openings offered the opportunity to create spaces controlled and manipulated by mankind. Although the human skin, is able to adapt to numerous conditions like no other intelligent device, hot and cold, dry and humid, adapting to a much broader range of conditions and levels of comfort only developed with clothing, buildings and their envelope.
Programming of the building envelope meets new challenges with global warming.
a r s 15 will look into developing 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.