Berlin, Germany Construction and Development, Economic sustainability, Environment and Resource efficiency, Local social sustainability, Organizational structures
Responsible Housing Award
“Winner Responsible Housing awards 2019 in the categorie 'More than a roof – supporting communities of equal opportunities'”



Building, energetic and financial aims:

  • Experimental and innovative renewal of a social housing complex (built in the 1970);
  • Adaptation of existing dwellings to current housing and energetic standards;
  • Addition of new building structures on former parking garage deck and as link between old and new constructions on ground floor level;
  • Saving resources and building costs by using compact building typologies and keeping the original size of the public courtyard space;
  • Reduction of the operational and living costs with energy- saving technology;
  • Sustainability through partial use of wood in multi-storey buildings.

Social, financial and cultural aims:

  • Upgrade actual living conditions (improve technical equipment, add balconies, create barrier-free entrances, level access showers etc.);
  • Addition of modern apartments, ateliers and co-housing solutions to create more variety in the mix of households;
  • Expansion of space for common facilities like gym room, table tennis room, community room (also in the outside areas, e.g. urban garden);
  • Support and reorganisation of self-organised community and neighbourhood.



The cooperative housing estate “Nettelbeckplatz” has its roots in the decade of rigid refurbishment strategies of the 1970s, replacing the so-called “Mietskaserne” (tenants’ barrack), characterised by light-less rear courtyards and unsocial living conditions. The official renewal program of that time forced the total demolition of those old building areas to create “modern” social housing structures. In 1973 the housing cooperative “1892” took part in that programme and realized an up to seven levels high building complex, located in the traditional workers’ quarter Berlin-Wedding. The originally 175 apartments were grouped around a green courtyard with playgrounds and recreation areas. The cooperative was the foundation in building a strong local community, based on self-help, solidarity and self-organization. 40 years later, the demographic change is obvious. More than 40 % of the inhabitants are above 65 years old. Many residents require barrier-free conditions or assisted living alternatives. The community has lost its vitality and leading presence in the neighbourhood. The state of the building structure is in need of renovation. Besides insufficient energetic standards, some entrance areas and ground plans no longer meet today’s requirements. Additional social problems in the surrounding disadvantaged area are creating an atmosphere of insecurity and social decline.

Actors involved

  • Residents
  • Housing cooperative

Actions carried out

  • Survey and interviews of tenants (before and after refur- bishment activities), research and evaluation by DREEAM (EU-funded project “Demonstrating an integrated Renovation approach for Energy Efficiency At the Multi- building scale”)
  • Monitoring of living comfort concerning humidity and tem- perature with sensors in the apartment. The residents can get their data in a platform
  • Monitoring of energy consumption for heating and warm water before and after renovation.
  • Future action: Training tenants to become Ambassadors of energy saving
  • Future action: Monitoring of electricity production and the efficiency of the installed battery system
  • Future action: Exchange and cooperation with local welfare and cultural partners
  • Future action: Combination of different building constructions – old (refur- bishment), partly demolition and new building
  • Future action: Construction of 4,200 m² living space without reduction of green area.


“Nettelbeckplatz” represents a successful approach to combine today’s challenges and sustainability on different levels with intelligent building solutions, energy efficiency, affordable housing as well as social and cultural aims. The variety of activities and new service facilities guarantee a high diversity of functions available to all of the wide and diverse mixture of households. This includes long-life perspectives and co-housing for all: elderly people, young fami- lies, students, individuals, artists or freelancers. Impacts and benefits can be measured on different levels: the technical improvements, developed and supported within the network of the DREEAM-project created a win-win situa- tion for users and the cooperative enterprise at the same time. Motivated by the DREEAM project requirements, the in- stallation of a photovoltaic system hwas added to the initial re-design plans. The generated Co2-neutral energy will cover electricity needs of the common area i.e. lighting, elevators, parking lot and community facilities. The decentralised electricity will help to reduce running costs for the building and simultaneously the living costs for tenants. A separate 7 storey building is added on the former park- ing garage deck, offering 44 modern flats and ateliers to new households. In-fill construction of open ground floor spaces provides additional common facilities as well as eight student and shared senior co-housing apartments. All extensions are based on resource and spatial efficiency. The participation of the residents, interviews and plenary sessions were important strategies to keep the social and democratic cooperative values. The new look of the housing estate, architecturally high- lighted with a new building on the former parking deck, creates a visually striking and representative image of coopera- tive architecture in an urban surrounding.

Why it works

The project serves as a “blue print”, not only within the housing-co- operative “1892”, but also for other community-orientated investors. In the context of increasing urbanisation such as in berlin, and to combat speculation, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to create a synthesis of quantified growth, intelligent building design and affordability, always in combination with social values and sustainable developments. This project represents an innovative way to integrate different aspects: renewal and further developing of housing estates with multi-building-strategies and integration in the surrounding neighbourhood area. Learning from the project could help develop similar urban strategies in the future. Another aspect is the value of employee motivation due to the work in a European-project. This experience, the possibility to visit other pro- jects in Europe and to share information with colleagues from other countries is also a kind of non-financial benefit for their commitment.



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