ars 13

Last year’s session explored the potential of translocating regional knowledge which manifested itself in the urban building typology of the courtyard palazzo and which was shaped over a couple of hundred years. Continuing this exploration, this year we seek to focus on a topic that became more and more evident throughout the academic discourse.

While living with technology, our societies tend to capture quality through numbers and evaluate results by matching the effort against certain benchmarks, but related to sustainable buildings the question arises which are those benchmarks?

An underlying trend frequently challenged the currently established numbers and design standards, due to the fact that almost all standards were based on a perception of the world as static rather than on the move. In fact, we live in a time where nothing is more evident than change. At the same time we are quickly losing sight of the past when designing for the future.

The 2013 summer academy aims to detect those architectural elements in building typology, which have proven to withstand the continuous challenges of our 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. Trying to adapting to a rapidly changing climate, architecture as a profession is more than ever challenged to create spaces, which cater to ever 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. 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.
Berlin’s urban fabric which developed following changes introduced by energy driven technical innovations like James Watt’s steam machine or Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Its building typology, which developed based on pattern books and best construction practices, is still today able to accommodate multiple shades of live – work scenarios. This outcome was not planned, but it rather means that we are able to value the building’s quality today with different occupancy patterns and can start to evaluate, which of their typological components might be suited as standards for sustainable buildings of the future.

Aldo Rossi outlined in L'architettura della città that the form of a city depends on the impact its buildings have on public spaces. Especially when the original program is outdated, good buildings live on and get adapted to new conditions. The boundary of the building reflects its position within the urban context and is determined by circulation and excluded spaces. This Janus faced phenomena of the building envelope, at the same time oriented towards the inside and the outside and providing separation as well as connection, offers a unique field of research to explore the in-between.

Today, more than 20 years after reunification, Berlin faces problems of gentrification and social segregation in its central districts. For example, the district of Neukölln currently develops as a melting pot of immigrants, students and the new creative class. We anticipate that this district provides the perfect background for a study, which challenges and reinvents the existing building typology. The existing building stock of the so called ‘Berliner Block’ is still attractive to many newcomers and draws from the quality of this building typology to adapt. Thinking about the future: How can we learn from the existing quality? Will it be suitable to accommodate today’s living and working needs? The demands of changing ethnic and cultural backgrounds, different life styles as well as changing climate conditions need to be addressed in a thoughtful manner.
Before we begin our workshop in Berlin, we will explore building typologies, which have been developed in a warmer climate in Florence, Italy. According to Hallegatte’s maps, Berlin will experience a similar climate as Florence in 2040-2070. Thus we will investigate the possibility of synergies between building types in Berlin and Florence. In approach to the issue, we will use simulation tools to study the impact of climate conditions, and thermal comfort on architectural typology and vice versa. We will start by looking at simple spatial proportions and geometries to understand the relationship between the building envelope and the quality of adjacent spaces. Climate affects the usability of indoor and outdoor spaces to a large degree. The inside and outside relationship expresses itself in the organization of circulation, window to wall ratio and shading devices.

And finally the key question will be what you think will be the “best” approach to design for a changing, social, ecological and economic environment.

ars berlin