Issue 3.2022

Concept Urban Housing

“A villa in the countryside with a large terrace, in front of you the Baltic Sea, Friedrichstrasse behind you …”. Thus begins Kurt Tucholsky’s 1927 poem, “The Ideal”. While Tucholsky’s ideal of urban life might be unattainable in Berlin, there are cities where it has become a reality. Switch out the Baltic Sea for Lake Zurich or the Mediterranean, and Friedrichstrasse for Bahnhof­strasse or the Rambla, and the architects from Zollhaus in Zurich and La Balma in Barcelona deserve nothing but praise. Admittedly, not everyone would want to live in an industrial hall, or like it when neighbours peek into the bedroom from the access balcony, or enjoy counting thousands of trains passing their flat. But where else in Europe’s major cities is there affordable housing? Where apartment buildings integrate neighbourhood services on the ground floor? Where housing collectives exist in most expensive downtown locations, and neighbours support each other and celebrate together? Frank Kaltenbach

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