Redensification Examples from Hamburg and Munich

The housing developments built between the nineteen twenties and nineteen sixties, that still have a significant impact on the townscape character of today, are now beginning to show their age. Besides upgrading open spaces, an urban redensification should also be considered in the planned refurbishment schemes: in booming big cities land reserves must be seen as a valuable resource.

Bebelallee, Hamburg, blauraum architekten Bebelallee, Hamburg, blauraum architekten | Photo: Hagen Stier The set task is always the same - upgrading the very standardised types of building to provide family-friendly flats with more flexible floor plans that also vary in size. There is no patent remedy. And although the presented examples may differ significantly, each one of them has been distinguished with an award: with the German Prize for Timber Construction 2011 (Treehouses Bebelallee), the German Prize for Urban Development 2008 (housing development in Altenhagener Weg), the Federal Award “Social City 2010“ (residential blocks on the square Piusplatz) and the “Award for Excellence in Housing Construction 2010“ of the City of Munich (for the Drei Höfe complex).

Increasing the height: Bebelallee, Hamburg-Winterhude

Bebelallee, Hamburg, blauraum architekten Bebelallee, Hamburg, blauraum architekten | Photo: Hagen Stier The housing development was built in 1959 and comprises six two-storey blocks, built as a massive construction with a yellow clinker facade on an integrated green open space. In 2008 the development was due for in-depth refurbishment, including an improvement to the carbon footprint. To this end, the blauraum architects studied a variety of concepts for the redensification of habitable space. Aimed at doubling the existing living floor space with 47 new apartments, while still maintaining the open character of the housing development, the team of architects, based in Hamburg, decided in favour of a new lightweight construction with prefabricated timber panels, that was to be erected on top of the sloping roofs that had not yet been converted. This work was to be carried out with other people still living in all of the buildings.

The facade of the two new levels has been left in a natural condition and is designed to look like the tops of the nearby trees. The coarse texture, however, is additionally due to fire protection reasons: cedar shingles meet the requirements for a timber facade of building class IV and, although different, harmonise well with the hand-painted clinker facade.

Expansion I: Altenhagener Weg, Hamburg-Farmsen

This housing development was built between 1958 and 1960 in the north east of Hamburg and is integrated in a larger neighbourhood of similar design. The competition for refurbishment and redensification of the development was won by Springer Architects. The approach taken in the design concept was inclusive and respectful of the anonymous architecture of the post-war era: the existing development with its diagonally arranged rows of blocks defines the setting for the urban development in the form of new square buildings erected on the triangular-shaped courtyards, formally used for garages. Although these design changes alter the character of the housing development, the conversion and extension of the existing buildings draw on a common architectural tradition found in the Arne Jacobsen residential developments of the late nineteen forties, and create an extensive level of harmony.

Due to the owner’s very long-term calculation it was again possible – as with the Bebelallee project - to design a new front-hung tiled facade instead of using the common external thermal insulation composite system. Altogether 48 new flats with two to three bedrooms were created in the three new buildings and in the new storeys built on top in the southern part of the complex.

Expansion II: Piusplatz, Munich-Berg am Laim

Piusplatz, Munich, Allmann Wappner Sattler Piusplatz, Munich, Allmann Wappner Sattler | Rendering: office Also in this estate that was built in the nineteen thirties, there were not enough flats for families with children. The consultant’s competition for the expansion, announced by the municipal housing corporation GEWOFAG in 2009, was won by the architects Allmann Sattler Wappner from Munich. In order not to change the character of the existing buildings and to maintain the attractiveness and quality of the green and recreational areas, the architects used the extensive space between the existing buildings for redensification purposes.

The design layout for the two new barrier-free residential blocks in passive house standard plans two compact structures that house 16 flats each. After completion in the autumn of 2012 these will blend in naturally with the urban environment at Piusplatz. Their clear lines close the square to the north, spacious balconies open out to the south and windows face the garden areas.

Demolition and new construction: Drei Höfe complex, Munich Neuhausen

Drei Höfe, Munich, bogevischs büro Drei Höfe, Munich, bogevischs büro | Photo: Julia Knop Unlike the projects mentioned above, the development between the Renatastrasse and Andréestrasse is a replacement housing project. This is because these buildings that dated back to 1912 no longer met today’s required standard and an energy efficiency upgrade would have been out of proportion in terms of costs. For the construction and housing association Verein für Volkswohnungen e.G the architects bogevischs buero | architekten und stadtplaner are therefore building a cooperative residential complex in two construction phases. It is designed as a square block around two courtyards with partial public access. This new construction not only provides over 35 percent more habitable space, the flats are now brighter inside, barrier-free and they also vary in style and size.

While on the outside the building blends with the surrounding environment where there are also protected buildings, the interior stands out with its marked contemporary design. The four stairways in purple are a special characteristic feature of this residential complex: in an open plan concept they are the central elements of communication and provide the vertical and horizontal connection of all individual and community uses.