Walk the line - urban development in the social focus-area Berlin Falkenhagener Feld

The goal of this project is the improvement of a social focus in Berlin called "Falkenhagener Feld." The neighbourhood is part of the western German Grossiedlungen and shares their typical problems.

These developments were built between 1950 and 1975 relating directly related to the urgent need for affordable housing after World War 2. Main criteria for their construction were the price and a short construction time. They where normally built outside the cities where space was easily available, away from the destruction of the centres.

At first these developments served primarily as housing for young middle-class families while in many cases the lower class population continued living in the destroyed centres.

When the economic potential of a big part of the German population changed during the economic boom in the 60s and 70s, new construction of housing began to focus more on single-family homes. Many families now left the Grossiedlungen to live in these new forms of housing. 

This resulted in an economic devaluation of the neighbourhoods, which allowed lower income classes, or immigrants to follow them and form the second-generation population of the district.

Between the “first and second generation” population arose different kinds of social conflicts in many cases related to different levels of identification with the neighbourhood and their homes, which continue and intensify in the present.

The project focuses on providing new opportunities for residents to identify with their neighbourhood as well as functional improvements in services, communications and urban quality of their neighbourhood.

To achieve this goal we proposed to change the character of the neighbourhood’s main axis. Everybody in the area uses this axis. It does not privilege certain areas within the neighbourhood. Basically the social and functional quality of the changes is rated higher that its architectural quality. Still we obviously wanted them to be perceived from outside the area.

So we designed a set of 12 measures on the central axis, which clearly improve the social and functional aspects of the area, including art projects and design of public space, sport and entertainment offers with influence beyond the boundaries of the district, improvement of the social fabric, offers for children and adolescents and improvements of connectivity, transport and road safety.

The 12 projects were connected with a red line across the pavement of the avenue that symbolises the change as a visual reference. It also appears in the logo of the project.

Developed in cooperation with Frank Bornmann