Special Interest Zone

31/03/2014 | birgitklauck

ADIP Semesterprogram SoSe 2014

The Urban Village

Urban Villages, fragmented enclaves in the middle of the urban fabric, are common phenomena within today‘s rapidly urbanizing world. In many cases urban villages are developing in urban niches, in-between spaces and cultural and economic zones that are organized according to their own principles or certain modes of self-organization. Very often these enclaves preserve a certain identity while the surrounding is affected by massive transformation processes. They are forming their own social milieus that contribute to the richness as well as the conflict potential of heterogeneous urban environments.

Even though most of the urban villages of today’s can be categorized as ‘informal cities’, they follow in many cases very formal rules – these rules are just different from what is largely understood as the official formal system. Whether we look at the urban villages in China, suburban commuter towns of today’s massively growing Megacities or at informal developments within the global South, villages within the city are part of the urban landscape and play a major role in providing affordable housing and other services that cannot be guaranteed anymore by official governments or markets. From this perspective 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.


ADIP Semesterprogram SS2014-66

Self-organization is nowadays even getting more and more attractive 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.

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

urban village_kl1

Fig.6 Urban Village in Shenzhen, China


Comments are closed.