architectural project ARCHITECTURE THAT REACTS | berlin _tempelhofer feld


01_The situation

One of the central societal challenges that architecture in Germany and especially Berlin faces is the adequate accommodation of refugees of war and poverty. That’s why efficient "arrival points" (cf. Doug Saunders’ groundbreaking analysis: ARRIVAL CITY) are being searched for, where immigrants can arrive and be successively integrated without having to renounce or completely give up their culture and previous lifestyle.

The starting point of our recommendation for the competition topic ARCHITECTURE THAT REACTS is the completely insufficient accommodation for refugees in the hangar of the former Berlin Tempelhof airport, which is considerably oversized for such a purpose. In 2016, hastily improvised and simple tents or boxes (open at the top) were set up so that families or randomly thrown-together individuals could be, for lack of a better word, locked up within them.

The people who arrived did have the most necessary infrastructure made available to them (for eating, drinking, sleeping, washing, etc.); however, today, they still remain alone, completely left to their own devices. Crammed together like this, they do not have any realistic chances to pursue any meaningful occupation or paid job. In such a foreign environment, they have no opportunities to continue living reasonably – making use of their culture and professional qualifications, respectively.

Today, the predominant mood at the Tempelhof indoor hangar camp is therefore shaped by boredom, hopelessness, frustration and aggression. The depressing feeling of a meaningless, life that is trickling away results in verbal conflicts and quarrels more and more frequently.

The camp at the Tempelhof field should be stabilized and further expanded by the city government, as increasing numbers of refugees are to be expected. The plans already published for this (see drawing on the submission plan) are too banal and exclusively based on the logistics of reception or prison camps.

We are addressing this unsatisfactory situation and developing an alternative.

02_The proposal

We are drafting a scenario that resembles an apparent randomly assembled collage. We are consolidating architectures on the broad field of the former airport, such as, for example, "the market hall," "the stage", "the stadium", etc. and supplementing these surreal assemblages through spacious fragments like "the bridge", "the park" etc.

The leaps in scale within these architectures are enormous. Rarely has such an unfamiliar, heterogenous combination been seen or experienced - (Constant would be the nearest in connotation, with his research on the NEW BABYLON). This applies for both the refugees and the locals. To a certain extent, everyone finds themselves on these premises on NEULAND (from the German "new ground") – in equal measure. Everyone must become accustomed to this unprecedented, rural-urban situation, to play with it wildly and freely (a "Homo Ludens" of sorts), and to curiously explore its eminent potential.

Almost incidentally, broad, semi-public, even almost private places form, which integrate into the suggestive vastness of the former airport. Even at the structural level of architecture, contrast is offered through rather rural, two-story-small structures against filigree constructions that hover some 80 meters above ground like in the case of the “stadium.”

The centerpiece of the facility is an ARRIVAL VILLAGE. In Expansionphase_01, it consists of two-story wood constructions (with optional expansions). There, approx. 700 refugees have the opportunity to offer simple, low-threshold services and make themselves financially self-sufficient, rid of governmental contributions. The top story offers space for living like in a familiar village community. This structure, according to Saunders’ research, is the most promising model for immigration and later integration worldwide. If they are to be successful, these arrival villages must be considerably more provisional and imperfect than German building regulations allow. Unplanned, anarchic and temporary is part of their DNA.

Further public amenities, like the “café/restaurant” or the “supermarket,” (still in the conception phase and not yet developed), the “co-working spaces” in the stadium frame or the “market hall”, hint at the substantial amount of synergistic potential that this area can arouse.

This is Berlin we are talking about. This means that it can only be expected that such an innovative project would attract many interested parties that will turn this location into a hot spot and a lively laboratory for an innovative, bottom-up integration of refugees.

designed by _matthias karch