Why is modern society so boring

: Architecture: Why Berlin's new buildings are so boring

Berlin - The task is clear: The six state-owned housing companies in Berlin are to build 30,000 new apartments over the next five years. The SPD, the Left and the Greens agreed in the coalition negotiations. Half of the accommodations are to be rented to those entitled to social housing. However, the first examples of already planned projects show how difficult it is to build both cheaply and attractively.

A new building project by Degewo on Tirschenreuther Ring in Marienfelde falls into the “boring” category. 82 apartments are currently being built there with an architecture that is strongly reminiscent of the 1960s. The planned smooth facade with the windows and balconies that are strictly aligned one above the other lacks any charisma. Unfortunately there are already many houses of this type in Marienfelde. It would have been worth trying to deviate from it in the new building.

The new building is the result of efforts to reduce construction costs. The house was designed by Degewo's own planning office "Bauwerk". According to Degewo, he has succeeded in reducing construction costs by 200 to 300 euros per square meter. This leads to "rent savings of 70 to 80 cents per square meter". The new buildings are to be awarded with the help of housing subsidies at an average rent of EUR 7.60 per square meter. That is well below the rent of around ten euros per square meter, which is otherwise charged for new apartments.

Degewo, together with the housing association Mitte (WBM) at the Pepitahöfen in Spandau, is proving that new residential buildings can look quite attractive. At the corner of Mertensstrasse and Goltzstrasse, two private project developers are building 1024 apartments for the two state-owned companies. They are being built in open block-edge development around a central, publicly accessible district park with a pond and a 2000 square meter playground. The five architectural offices Göllner (for urban development), Nöfer, Cramer Neumann, Stephan Höhne and Stuke are responsible for the planning.

Everyone gives their sub-project their own touch. The facades are structured by projections and balconies of various sizes. It will be a neighborhood that can be seen. It should be ready by the end of 2018. 25 percent of the apartments are subsidized and offered for rents from 6 euros per square meter. The privately financed apartments cost an average of EUR 9.50 per square meter. The average rent across all apartments is 9.18 euros per square meter.

As if the house were sticking out its tongue

Quite the opposite of the attractive Pepita courtyards are the apartments that the architect Max Dudler is building for the Lindenhof project for the Howoge housing association in Lichtenberg. The five-story buildings with their smooth, cool-looking facades have next to nothing cozy. Even the few projections on the facade do not take away any of the sculptural coldness of the house. The protruding balconies look as if the house is sticking out its tongue to the surroundings. Howoge is building 575 rental apartments on the seven hectare site of the former Lindenhof children's hospital.

Around 140 apartments will be funded and offered at starting rents averaging 6.50 euros per square meter. In addition to Dudler, the architects KSP Jürgen Engel are planning the apartments.

In order to save costs, the state-owned housing companies want to “plan and build more compactly” in the future. The use of “elemented components” is also being discussed. However, the president of the Berlin Chamber of Architects, Christine Edmaier, warns of quality losses. "Architecturally, nothing speaks against the use of prefabricated components - if they are well made."

For example like the horseshoe settlement. “But I see the danger that serial construction will result in large numbers of identical apartments,” she says. "If it comes to that, we would reverse gear towards the large estates that arose in the 1960s and 1970s," says Edmaier. “There must be no off-the-shelf apartments.” Many things are already confusingly similar. "People have a right to individual houses with a diverse architecture." This must be taken into account, especially in the new city districts. The World Heritage settlements of the 1920s show that not everything has to look the same if a lot is being built.