19/02/2014 | birgitklauck


Urban Villages, fragmented enclaves in the middle of the urban fabric, are a common phenomena within today‘s rapidly urbanizing world. Very often these enclaves preserve a certain identity while the surrounding is affected by massive transformation processes. In some cases these areas are developing according to their own set of rules following certain principles of self-organization.

What has been themed as “informal development” actually in many cases follows very formal rules – these rules are just different from what is largely understood as the official formal system. In this line of thought the favelas in Brazil or the urban villages in China can be interpreted as areas of parallel governance following their own set of rules but being imbedded in the same time in other legal, administrative, economic and social frameworks. Governments are more and more recognizing these parallel systems as they play a major role for providing low-cost housing, urban services (such as micro-commerce) and a certain sense of community building or cultural identity. In the case of Brazil zoning laws have been altered by introducing “Special Zones of Social Interests”. Within these zones official regulations (such as fire restrictions or social housing standards) can be suspended in order to allow urban planning to adapt to the specific conditions of the given context.

Self-organization is nowadays getting more and more attractive even in the context of Berlin. The increasing number of initiatives that are currently occupying some niches in the urban fabric under the label of “building groups” (Baugruppen) or cooperatives (Genossenschaften) can be seen as counter models to a dominant system of value production that do not provide space for alternative living models.


SURPLUS TRANSFER SoSe 2014 – Master Design Studios and Bachelor Thesis

For the summer semester 2014 the SURPLUS TRANSFER program will investigate  urban villages in many different contexts in Berlin and across the world in order to identify the specific qualities of these settlements. After a concentrated analysis main concepts of these urban villages will be transferred and translated to selected sites in the center of Berlin.

By introducing “Special Interest Zones” new rules have to be established according to certain social and cultural profiles, allowing the development of alternative spatial and programmatic configurations. The transfer operation is therefor informed by the two sides: on one hand the reference project will give a new (spatial, programmatic and cultural) input – on the other hand the selected site in Berlin with it’s specific qualities and future populations will represent the backdrop on which communities will be formed according to the principles of parallel urban governance. Rather than representing villages in the traditional sense, these urban villages have to be designed as complementary living models to the existing urban fabric following their own identities and cultural values.


More info will follow soon! Please check our website regularly.

See also

emerging urban economies / design-studios / rainer-hehl

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