Florian Köhl | Coop-Housing Experience

I am a stalker.. sorry I have been following Florian for some time now, I tried to get an internship in his office and unfortunately they were unable to take me on at this particular moment in time.

Fatkhoehl Architekten are an interesting practice for me as their approach in the field of architecture is taken from a romanticised position, or a vision where, before cities will become more social homogeneous, it is time to turn back to moral values in the real estate profit standards to enable progress. This topic reminded me of the experience of Bruno Taut and the Siedlung concept, basically at the starting of the XX century the need for affordable housing in Germany turned into the creation of new provisions in Berlin with housing cooperatives instead of developers.

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Why? Housing cooperatives or building societies dwelling, are intended to give shareholders (whose employment has no importance) the purchase of a dwelling in own or possess more of a dwelling by lease to prices and more favorable conditions than the market ones. To achieve this objective, the cooperative must make an housing project in all its phases: acquiring a building site, submit for the approval of a construction project, awarding prizes to a construction company and if you are the owner you can’t sell it within a certain time period.

Nowadays, where everybody wants to make profit and has no care for what will happen should housing become unaffordable, or affordable with different standards of life (less mq/person, more expensive rent pro person, or living far from city center), this idea looks interesting again.

 

About that Florian Köhl alongside other offices in Berlin (Zusammenarbeitern | BAR Architekten | Silvia Carpaneto Architekten) developed this Cooperative housing project in Köpenicker Straße, Spreefeld where they were able to build a complex of 3 housing blocks with an interesting approach to the public path program. Beside that, the neighborhood relationship and housing program reach a social mix, useful for the life of the complex and in my point follow the ideas of Jane Jacobs.

As an anthropologist, J.J strongly criticized the model of modern city development and was a supporter of the human scale recovery of urban core, emphasizing the role of the street, district, block, proximity & density and heterogeneous nature of the buildings.

Spreefeld, so far, reaches this level, 25% of the area (1905 m2) are cluster units where people live together, 4% (350 m2) is communal space + communal terrace (420 m2). It’s a city in a city, and it works pretty nice. Unfortunately as Florian Köhl explains in conversation, to create this kind of complex, areas are harder and harder to find, well maybe we have arrived at a crucial point where society and politics should get involved and figure it out.

This project looks to me quite important as a special study case to re-think housing marketUnfortunately I don’t possess the data about the cost of rent or the house price in this cooperative experience, but I will try let you know soon.

 

Another project of this office is the Die Laube development at Prinzessinnengarten in Berlin. A wood construction in pure Easa style and social project made in cooperation with TU Berlin, Carpenter School and Architectuul.com. The wood construction aims to extend the notion of the vertical garden and become a public space where you can find children playing, couples hugging and friends having a beer. Isn’t it the Architecture we really need today?

F.K. told me about the collaborative process and the financial aspects of the design, thanking IKEA and how the construction divided in different phases and then flexible in its use until becoming the intended approach to public space and vertical gardens at the last stage.

An interesting anecdote from Florian is about how those people are quite open minded and alternatively became really conservative about the production of the project with this adding of public space to the garden- maybe not a popular decision. Shame on me, I guess everybody should be happy for such a kind gift!

I am pretty sure, even I didn’t have the chance to get hired, Florian and I will cross again. And I have more than one reason to be so sure.

Have a great day!

Daniele

Spreefeld photos and diagrams from  Fatkhoehl Architekten | Die Laube photos by me | Special tanks to Ozan Balcik as Co-editor

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