More than a Roof – An experimental way of renewing a cooperative housing estate

Berlin , Germany Construction and Development, Local social sustainability, Organizational structures
Responsible Housing Award
“The title of the category “More than a roof” is the key theme of housing cooperatives. As democratic members’ organizations, they combine sustainable building, social and cultural aims.”


Housing Cooperative Berliner Bau- und Wohnungsgenossenschaft von 1892 eG pursued an experimental and innovative renewal of a 1970s cooperative housing complex (from 1970s), which featured adaptations as well as additions/extensions (of modern apartments, ateliers, co-housing solutions for a variety of households), using innovative construction strategies, energy-saving technologies, improving accessibility, expanding common spaces, and supporting the self-organised community.


The site itself has optimal potential for re-compaction by adding and overbuilding or by expanding the air floors in the existing stock, so that at this location new housing can be created without occupying additional land area. A north-west two-storey split-level low / high garage will be partially demolished and overbuilt with a seven-storey point house, whereby the floor of the garage below ground will be preserved and functionally integrated into the new building. In addition to parking spaces, there are also rooms for special use and for building services. In addition, the existing air floors of the existing buildings on the ground floor will be used for the installation of barrier-free apartments.

Issues tackled

Local awareness and neighbor sensitivity should be especially taken into account, neighborhood-specific features and the residents are involved in the transformation. The project aims to house a wide variety of life stages and forms (single, family, retirees, students, artists, couples or shared flats …) on the one hand through adaptable suitable housing sizes and floor plans as well as an expansion of existing buildings with corresponding meeting rooms, which are conducive to a positive feeling of settlement and “Kiezgemeinschaft”. Identification of the individual with the residents and the building complex are in the foreground and also serve to relieve the space of the private living space.


The project Nettelbeckplatz was selected as one of three pilot projects for the EU Horizon 2020 research project DREEAM – Demonstrating an integrated Renovation Approach to Energy Efficiency at the Multi-building scale. DREEAM was funded by the Swedish Chalmers University and European Research and Technology Partners.

Why it works

Although economic reasons play an important role to save building costs and to make affordable housing possible, non-financial benefits like a strong local community, egalitarian living standards and multi-generational solidarity are also important guidelines.

Furthermore the success of the project was the result of a “co-operative/ co-working” process between all partners: research teams, architects, welfare organizations – in close interaction with the residents, neighborhood committees and the interdisciplinary staff of the “1892”.”