Housing Complex for Women in Munich

With the new trade-fair facilities and large commercial and housing developments built on the site of the former airport in Munich, the district of Riem may be seen as one of the largest areas of urban expansion in the city at present. In the course of the past ten years, numerous housing developments and new neighbourhoods have been created there with multi-storey blocks of flats – often grouped in close proximity to each other. On the other hand, a genuine sense of neighbourliness has rarely been achieved. The new cooperative called “Frauenwohnen” (WomenLiving) clearly distinguishes itself from all this anonymity and monotony. That has nothing to do, however, with the fact that the project is a participatory housing scheme for which the tenancy contracts were made exclusively with women. The structure itself, laid out partially around a landscaped courtyard, gives no indication of this. Far more striking is the evident sense of balance achieved by the restrained architecture, which lends the courtyard a noticeable quality of intimacy, despite its attractive permeability at ground floor level. The importance attached to achieving this balance between communal openness and scope for individual withdrawal was one of the most important goals of the women clients. It can be seen in the fact that the private balconies and terraces are oriented towards the outside, whereas all communal areas open on to the courtyard. Of special importance in this respect is the two-storey tract along the northern access road. Here, on the upper floor, are a guest apartment, and offices that can be rented on a temporary basis. Situated on the ground floor is a communal space, which provides a location where tenants of all ages and family situations can find informal contacts, exchange information and attend lectures, readings and parties. The fact that uncomplicated neighbourly relations are possible not only between residents, but with people from outside, is demonstrated by the large numbers of visitors to the events held here, which are open to non-members of the cooperative.
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