Inhabitable Structures: Urban Housing in Munich

Professur Städtebau und Wohnungswesen

Gastprof. Alexander Fthenakis

Today’s forms of living – in tune with our contemporary biographies – are becoming increasingly individualized and heterogeneous. Urban residential buildings are being asked to integrate a highly diverse range of apartment sizes and types, in accord- ance with a multitude of inhabitation scenarios. Furthermore, as the limits between domestic realm and workplace are dissolving more and more nowadays, there is an urgent need to reconsider the idea of the apartment as the mere place of eating, sleeping and leisure. At the same time there is a desire for community in an atom- ized society that needs to be addressed within the anonymity of the city.

A second challenge that we are currently facing, is the adaptation of a myriad of res- idential buildings – often of the post war period – to the aforementioned contemporary needs. What we realize in that process, is that the rigid building structure that was designed to fit a specific idea of housing of that particular period, often makes a long term transformation very difficult. While the biographies of the inhabitants have di- versified and shifted, the plans and walls have remained. There is a lot to learn from office buildings in that instance, destined to accommodate the change of their func- tional and technical content as well as that of their outside appearance. With trans- formation and reuse increasingly becoming the dominant forms of building, it seems highly questionable whether the post-war model of functionalist housing is still valid in an age of sustainable urban development.

Therefore, during this semester our intention is to conceive urban residential build- ings as „inhabitable structures“. In other words, the focus will be placed on the de- velopment of simple and robust core-and-shell-structures which embody two main aspects. Firstly, they are able to accommodate typological and functional variety. Secondly, they provide a response to the mid- to long term transformability that the contemporary apartment building requires. The project will be located on a site within the city of Munich. The intention of our studio is to explore together the spatial and organizational potential of open plan structures for housing, investigating the inter- play between structure, façade and interior life of a building. We will be dealing with the dialogue between building and context, and with the continuity between public space and the private realm. We will work on construction as a means of architectur- al expression, developing a contemporary idea of tectonics as a tool by which the character of a city can be formed and new typologies invented.

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