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Laboratory for Integrative Architecture 


BA-A + MA:A : Städtebaulicher Entwurf, Winter 21/22

Kyungsub Shin, Park, 2019

German version here.


The design studio adresses highly motivated master students, skilled in drawing, modelling and other media. You should be curious and open towards a design process which seeks to explore innovative solutions. Exchange students are explicitly welcome.


Berlin´s urban space has been under pressure for several years due to land scarcity and continued population growth. While the city’s current urban systems have been struggling to serve the needs of this increasing density, changes in how we move, interact, work and use resources, challenge the future of these systems. The studio aims to develop phase-oriented urban concepts that mediate between land scarcity, impacts of growth, and changing uses of urban systems. Located in a heterogeneous area along the Spree in Berlin-Schöneweide, the studio project will investigate mixed-use densification through the lens of a city in flux.

Urban Systems

The city is a rich network of different urban systems. Urban systems can be both physical (building structures, traffic infrastructure, waterways, green spaces, etc.) and non-physical (social, political, legal, economic, and digital). They have different scales -- from buildings to building blocks to metropolitan areas – and can dynamically adapt to the constantly evolving needs of society. Understanding urban systems and their interdependencies, impacts and dynamics is fundamental to urban design as a discipline that integrates heterogeneous needs into a comprehensive spatial structure.

Berlin under pressure

Triggered by rapid population growth, Berlin has been under pressure for several years now. With a current population of ca. 3.750.000 million inhabitants, the city’s population has reached its highest level since the end of the Second World War. In the last five years, Berlin has registered 47.700 new inhabitants per year. The sustained growth has led to a general increase in real estate prices and triggered gentrification processes in previously socially mixed and central districts such as Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Friedrichshain. Increase in prices have also led to population shifts from Berlin´s inner city to the more favorable outskirts and beyond.

links: Wohnungsbesichtigung in Berlin; rechts: Stadtentwicklungsplan Wohnen 2030

Impacts of Growth

Growth has generated a number of new needs and uses that are perceptible throughout the city and have a direct impact on the city’s urban systems.

To provide enough housing for its growing population, the city needs 20.000 new flats per year. As a consequence, the formerly abundant urban voids are being rapidly filled with new housing developments – not without resistance from the local residents. The question is how to mediate between inevitable change and the preservation of established structures.

In central areas, there is a lack of low-income housing as well as a lack of housing for young families, shared flats, students and the elderly. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult for public housing companies or newly emerging cooperatives to build new low-cost  dwellings, partly due to the scarcity of affordable public land for building. Nevertheless, affordable and various forms of housing are urgently needed to guarantee an established social mix and a balanced urban development, while taking into account the general diversification of lifestyles in society.

Growth not only challenges the housing system, but also puts pressure on micro-economic systems, such as small manufacturing enterprises in centrally located industrial estates. In contrast to many established residential areas, these enterprises do not enjoy the status of "Social Preservation Areas" ("Millieuschutzgebiete") and are increasingly in danger of being replaced by housing constructions. However, the new and decentralized digital production methods of the "Industry 4.0" seem to be driving a trend towards small-scale, urban production, "open workshops" and "urban manufacturing." The question arises as to which concepts can  reinvent the programmatic mix between housing and urban production.

Current growth is also affecting public infrastructure, services and public space. During peak hours, the utilization of public transport infrastructure like U- and S-Bahn is now reminiscent of Paris or Tokyo. Spaces and staff for schools, kindergartens and hospitals have reached their capacity and need to be expanded. Parks, lakes and squares are becoming more and more crowded. A significant increase in traffic can be observed on the streets, caused by commuters and delivery services as a result of growing online marketing. The increasing popularity of bicycles, cargo bikes and mobility-on-demand systems (such as cars-on-demand, e-scooters and pedelecs) is further increasing the utilization of public space. The pressure on the roads and the diversification
of mobility forms call into question the established surface distributions between transport modes and reflect the need to think about new, integrative urban structures.

Furthermore, the current COVID-19 pandemic has an impact on urban development. For example, the pandemic has further accelerated the previously observed increase in working from home. This results in a decreasing demand for office space in city centres and a growing need for typologies and residential models that can combine living and working. The question also arises as to the conversion of office space, should this trend become more pronounced.

Growth versus Land scarcity

Since Berlin has a limited territory as a city-state and the Berlin Senate has opted for inner development for reasons of sustainability,9 growth and the resulting needs have to be absorbed by the existing city and its systems. This fundamentally calls into question the availability of brownfields (often informally used) and generous open spaces in centrally located areas, which was characteristic of Berlin in the past, and spaces for the settlement of new uses are now  becoming a limited resource.

Berlin has so far lacked urban development concepts that can mediate between growth pressure, its resulting needs and the limited amount of urban space, as suggested by current discussions about the "Productive City," Berlin Senate's "Hochhausplan" (high-rise model), the "Bodenfrage," residential skyscrapers and the controversial debate about the so-called "Düsseldorfer Erklärung." There is a lack of urban development concepts that can mediate more intelligently between land scarcity, growth, density, program, social mix, quality of open space and mobility.

Growth pressure and land scarcity call for the existing city to use its areas and spaces more efficiently, to find new potential areas and to think about overlapping different uses in the same space. It is necessary to overcome the modernist idea of functional separation, which is still reflected in the compartmentalized thinking in administrations, and to perceive urban systems as spatially integrated. At the same time, the question arises as to how the interests of the established social and spatial structures can be taken into account.

An approach to the flux of history, Hermitage Museum research, OMA, 2003 - 2005

A city in Flux

The term “flux” has several definitions, the most relevant, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, are: “a continuous moving on, or passing by, as of a stream; a continued flow; change; fluctuation.”

Cities can be understood as centers of concentrated flux, where the meeting of needs, desires, memories, and aspirations creates an evolving, complex situation with no beginning or end. In Berlin, centuries of history are layered with today’s challenges and projections of future needs. In addition to the pressures of growth and land scarcity, new urban development concepts must be designed to engage with a future of increasing change, so as to shape it, rather than become obsolete. At the same time, the issue arises as to how to deal with existing systems that may no longer serve a purpose.

In the seminal lecture “Preservation is Overtaking Us,” Rem Koolhaas described OMA’s approach to the exhibition design of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg as one in which “you will be confronted with history rather than the results of history.” The approach of tackling history as an ongoing process to be experienced from within, rather than as a completed event, packaged for later viewing, is also relevant at the scale of urban design. Strategies, such as incremental change and adaptive systems, incorporate flux as an active element, allowing urban systems to keep pace with changes as they come and maintain usefulness as the city and its needs evolve.

Project area

Located southeast of Berlin’s central ring in Schöneweide, the project area is bisected by the Spree River and is defined by the two facing shorelines produced by this body of water. The two sides, Oberschöneweide on the north and Niederschöneweide on the south, are connected by four bridges, and have access to S-Bahn rail and tram lines, linking the area both to the central city and to the Berlin-Brandenburg airport. On the far north of the site area, a now-defunct ferry line formerly shuttled passengers across the river between Plänterwald and an allotment garden colony. A portion of the federal highway 96a flows between to the rail line and the Spree, slicing the available space into even narrower strips.

The urban fabric of the area is heterogeneous, with isolated residential neighborhoods wedged between infrastructure, industrial zones and allotment garden colonies. Big box stores, mid-scale factories, offices and parking lots dominate the southern waterfront, with industrial heritage buildings characterizing the northern waterfront and former workers’ housing behind it. As part of Berlin’s planned axis for growth, the area leverages its history as one of the city’s former largest industrial regions to market itself as a future center for technology and innovation. Historic buildings have been retrofitted for contemporary uses, with tenants ranging from
information technology, biotechnology, engineering and electronics, start-ups, artist studios, and educational institutions such as the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft. The Regional Management Berlin Südost projects 10,000 new jobs for the area by 2030, and has made 300,000 square meters of listed property with industrial heritage available, with the potential for 250,000 square meters more to be constructed. In the very near future, the area will be drastically transformed and densified. Access and use of the waterfront, existing and future diverse functions, and public infrastructure are important qualities to be taken into account in the urban growth of the area.

Students will begin with analyzing the entire project area frame of 1000m x 2500m (analysis frame), and later on decide on their own area of intervention (intervention frame), which should be 500m x 500m within the analysis frame.


Over the course of the semester, different topics and questions arising from the development of concepts of layering will be addressed:

First of all, various urban systems of the project area, their structures, elements and qualities will be presented, and their interrelationships and how they affect one another will be discussed. The goal is to understand and evaluate the existing situation and its potential. What works, what doesn´t? What are the qualities of the area? What is missing?

Past and Future
In addition, we will investigate the histories and the potential futures of urban systems within the project area. What is the use timeline of the systems? What conditions gave them form, and how are conditions changing? Have some buildings or uses become obsolete and should be demolished in order to create space for new uses? Will the currently occupied areas require less space in the future due to technological innovations or changes in capacity utilization? Is it possible to temporarily use surfaces by other programs?

Another key question is the search for an adequate program for the project area. Which city-wide needs can the area meet and which uses result from it? What does the area need? Which user groups should be addressed? What are their needs? What services should the program include in order to gain acceptance from the local population?

Finally, the question arises as to what kind of urban structures can be derived from a flux-oriented approach to space and program. Which development, open spaces and/or development structures and typologies can strategically complement the existing? How do they make a bridge into the future? Do existing structures have to be replaced by new ones? What kind of new hybrids can be created? What is the sequence, or phasing, for the development of structures, and how does it fit into the larger timeline narrative?

Incremental housing in Chile, Elemental, 2003


Städtebauliches Entwurfsstudio Master: EP Städtebau I (EP 12ECTS/8SWS)
Bachelor: ES Städtebaulicher Entwurf (EP 10ECTS/7SWS)

Important Dates
Oktober 11 2021 (tbc) Start Wahlzeitraum ISIS-PRIO-POLL (s. KVV)
Oktober 12 2021(tbc) Online-Einführungsveranstaltung (s. KVV)
Oktober 15 2021 (tbc) Ende Wahlzeitraum ISIS-PRIO-POLL (s. KVV)
Oktober 19 2021 (tbc) Auswertung und Verteilung der Studierenden (s. KVV)
Oktober 20 2021 (tbc) Veröffentlichung der Ergebnisse auf ISIS (s. KVV)
Oktober 21 2021 10.00-18.00 h Online Studio Kick-Off
Oktober 22 2021 10.00-18.00 h Site Visit
November 11 2021 10.00-18.00 h Online Pin-Up 1: Task A – Analysis + Research
Dezember 9 2021 10.00-18.00 h Online Pin-Up 2: Task B – Typology + Narrative
Januar 13 2021 10.00-18.00 h Online Midterm Presentation: Urban Concept
Januar 27 2021 10.00-18.00 h Online Pin-Up 3: Urban Plan
Februar 17 2021 10.00-18.00 h Online Final Presentation: Urban Design

Bitte prüfen Sie den Zeitplan auf ISIS regelmäßig für etwaige Änderungen.

Studio Program 

Students will work with a step-by-step methodology and develop urban design concepts for parts of the project area. They will also read excerpts of urban design theory texts throughout the semester and use them as argumentative support for their projects. The studio is divided into four phases. The first phase involves gaining collective knowledge about the project area: A cartographic and visual analysis of its urban systems, their elements, and their interrelationships will reveal the richness and complexity of the territory. In the second phase, the acquired knowledge of the territory will be complemented by design knowledge: based on reference projects, different design scenarios will be tested and evaluated on the project territory. In the third phase students will develop an urban design concept through an overall plan, thematic plans, sections and models at scale (1:1000 - 1:500) and supported by diagrams, mapping and illustrations. In the final phase, the urban concept will be further developed and supplemented by plans, sections and further illustrations of the proposed building types (1:500). Accompanying the studio, various inputs and workshops, e.g. on GIS or model construction, are carried out, partly in cooperation with the other urban planning departments of the IfA.
Für weitere Informationen bezüglich der Online-Lehre und des Semesterablaufs lesen Sie bitte
den Design Brief im Download Bereich.

Bachelor Vorlesungsreihe Städtebau

Die Vorlesungsreihe Städtebau ist eine Einführung in das städtebauliche Entwerfen und begleitet das Entwurfssemester Städtebau im 3. Semester Bachelor. Sie wird gemeinsam von den Fachgebieten Chora, CUD, Habitat Unit und LIA durchgeführt und via Zoom freitags von 8:30 bis 10:00 Uhr stattfinden.
Mehr Informationen hier.


Design Brief


Für weitere Informationen kontaktieren Sie bitte die wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiter:
Mary Lynch-Lloyd

For technical support concerning online teaching and the respective platforms and programs please contact our tutor:
Niki Sidirourgou

Für alle administrativen Angelegenheiten kontaktieren Sie bitte:
Katrin Ritter