How can a ‘social city’ function if there is not enough affordable living space to go around? How can we make sure that meeting places for young and old don’t die out? What new forms of living and working under the same roof are conceivable? Artists, scientists, architects, politicians and urban planners are looking into these and other questions in the ‘Wohnungsfrage’ exhibition at the House of World Cultures (HKW) in Berlin, part of its four-year major project ‘100 Years of Now’. In debates and lectures, they are discussing the momentous changes taking place in housing policy and housing construction and presenting their artistic works on all aspects of housing.
Strong demand pressure
The issue of housing is more topical than ever in Germany. More than half of Germans live in rented accommodation, and the figure is even higher in the major cities at more than 70 percent. More and more people are attracted to the cities by better job and training opportunities, lower mobility costs and more attractive cultural and leisure facilities. The strong demand is pushing up rents. The rent-control measures that came into force in Germany on 1 June 2015 aim to prevent landlords from making exaggerated demands; even so, many people, especially families, cannot afford many of the offers on the market. And the influx of refugees will further increase demand for affordable living space.
As part of its project, the HKW invited, among others, senior citizens to develop a concept for an apartment based on their own ideas together with a London-based architectural office called Assemble: privacy and community are not opposites; the apartment adapts to the needs of a long life. Kolabs (short for cooperative laboratory of students) and the Tokyo-based Bow-Wow studio have drafted a concept that creates interfaces for joint living and learning. The Dogma office from Brussels and the Frankfurt-based Realism Working Group are reconfiguring a bourgeois city villa into a house that abandons the distinction between the living and working spheres.
‘Wohnungsfrage’ exhibition until 14 December 2015 at the House of World Cultures (HKW), Berlin