Hinterhof/Vorderhof

2015

Authors: Katarzyna Berent and Elias Mansour

The project is located in Berlin Lichtenberg, between monument listed powerplant Klingenberg and Funkhaus on Nalepastrasse (old radiostation, now a cultural venue). The area is a mix of industry, housing, cultural venues and recreational spaces.

The schwarzplan shows a patchwork of many different textures and voids creating a chaotic urban tissue. Hence a decision to introduce a new , ordered pattern in the large undeveloped terrain, that currently separates the passerbys from the water.

An ordered urban system was developed on a grid, that can grow gradually and its elements can function on their own even during phased building process.

The aim was to perfom an urban experiment and create a new form of city living. We investigated different levels of public character of urban spaces.

The typologies of courtyards were of our particular interest, as they seem to be undefined elements, that can be either public, semi-public or private. The 19th century housing blocks usually have a private or semi-private space for the inhabitants in the courtyard. Durchgangshof is a kind of a shopping passage in form of a courtyard, a common typology in Germany. Another inspiration was the facade of the nearby powerplant Klingenberg, which forms courtyard-like niches facing the street.

We looked closely at a typical Berliner Block, with its many small dark courtyards and we inverted it, taking the inner divisions outside which resulted in bright spacious Hinterhofs (backyards). Outside the block a new kind of space was formed - a Vorderhof (frontyard).

We took the traditional Durchgangshöfe one step further and instead of only having shops in the Hinterhofs, we transfer the whole urban life in there.

In the Vorderhofs semi-private gardens are located. They form communities of inhabitants, that grow plants and food together.

The area in between the blocks is an idyllic green leisure space of a pleasant intimate scale. The grid of green picturesque paths leads pedestrians towards the bank of Spree river, enabling the link between water and the city.

The car roads are passing through the Hinterhofs, all public functions and entrances are placed inside the block. This way we achieved a sequence of public courtyards of urban quality. A visitor can enter one of the Hinterhofs, where pulic services can be found, as each of the blocks contains one module of a public building, such as a shop, workspaces, offices, or entertainment facilities.

On the ground floor of the Hinterhof a belt of space owned by inhabitants dedicated for meetings, work or leading a small buissines is located. It allowed to create a lively space with a variety of functions that attract visitors at different times of the day. This way the block community is forming, that contains the smaller communities brought together by gardens in vorderhofs.

The inside of the block is arranged, so that each flat includes a terrace facing one of the gardens.

The intense urban life takes place in the hinterhofs, where people meet, work, and use public services, while the space in front of the blocks is reserved for relaxation and small communities of inhabitants.