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Wuhle, Wiese, Wohnen

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Region

Europe and Northern America

Date

2023

Service

Urban Design and Public Space

Project Details

Location

  • Berlin (Germany)

Type

  • Commission
  • Competition

Partners

Surface

18.3ha

A design concept to breathe new life into the historic corridor, with a unique identity, while safeguarding ecological integrity.

The Wuhle green corridor has served as part of the Greater Berlin planning legacy since the 18th century. Today, it is an important biodiversity corridor and popular green space, for local/regional cyclists and nature enthusiasts. However, it comes to an unceremonious end at proposed site: a gray water pipe run dry.

Berlin has taken measures to restore and rehabilitate the Wuhle corridor. So we asked ourselves: what if we resurrect the Wuhle tributary? Might this become the linchpin for the new residential site? How do we negotiate the design challenge of a housing development in a flood-prone zone? Do we re-wild the corridor to enhance absorbency?

From these questions, came our design entry: Wuhle tributary, Meadow, Living (Wuhle, Wiese, Wohnen). A design concept to breathe new life into the historic corridor, with a unique identity, while safeguarding ecological integrity.

What if we resurrect the Wuhle tributary? Might this become the linchpin for the new residential site? How do we negotiate the design challenge of a housing development in a flood-prone zone? Do we re-wild the corridor to enhance absorbency?
Image caption

Wuhle tributary - Meadow - Living

The competition site is located in Ahrensfelde, to the northwest of Ahrensfelde Friedhof station and the old centre of Ahrensfelde. To the northeast, an expanse of wooded meadow. In contrast, in the southwest, the site shares its border with a suburb characterised by single-family homes.

During our site visits, we found that current residents of Ahrensfelde are actively committed to re-wilding activities. Reflecting a community that values and actively engages with its natural surroundings.

The wooded meadow in the north descend toward the competition site, which causing flooding. The Wuhle tributary was once a flood-buffer, and our design is a thoughtful extension of the Wuhle Corridor, and revival of the tributary to create a natural reservoir flood-buffer.

We develop a climate-responsive neighborhood along an extended Wuhle corridor for biodiversity and recreation, starting at Ahrensfelde Friedhof station and merging into the open landscape to the northeast, anchored in the historical and cultural identity of Angerdorf.

Autochthonous inspiration: Angerdorf

The Angerdorf is a traditional Berlin-Brandenburg settlement typology. It focuses a population around a natural commons, which we saw as a strong complement to our aim to build liveable neighbourhoods with a rich sense of place. The Angerdorf principles of community building around shared nature and water created an opportunity to revive a human settlement form that can safeguard the nature corridor, while also provide housing.

We also drew from the native Ahrensfelde Straßendorf typology, where buildings are arranged along a street, and the back of buildings is open to the natural surroundings. We designed a fusion of the Straßendorf and Angerdorf typologies. From this fusion we derived principles, linked to the call and the site: water, living, and community. Living together in close proximity to nature.

In this evolution of the Angerdorf, residential buildings are arranged around a natural commons, traversed by a commuter street with a 20 km/hr limit. The zigzagging commuter street surrounded by green public space. This is a place, for encounter—children play, people meet, where life unfolds.

The street layout and arrangement of the residential buildings eliminates through traffic. The back of the residential buildings face the wilder ecosystem of the meadows. At the buildings’ front: lively green spaces and front gardens create a noise filter to traffic.

And at the back water absorbent surfaces, animals, dragonflies, and mud—respectful of the Wuhle wilderness. To add, the tree population is largely preserved as natural noise protection.

Use and Building Concept

Organisation around a natural commons, shared gardens and recreational opportunities promote social cohesion. This also includes affordable housing, short distances and proximity to public transport, and access to jobs.

In total, over 50,000 m2 of gross residential space and 18,000 m2 of gross commercial space will be created. That is 444 apartments, made up of 318 rental apartments in three-storey apartment buildings, 122 terraced house typologies and four semi-detached houses.

The residential typologies offer a high degree of mix: intergenerational living, communal forms of living, residential sizes suitable for students, young families and older people on different incomes. With green water gardens, façades and roof terraces, the district emphasises living close to nature and offers numerous opportunities for local recreation in the countryside.

Building Typologies

We consider a modular system of buildings, which maintains the region-specific pitched roof, to visually integrate the new residential site into the existing town and to recall the Angerdorf tradition. This system is highly affordable and by varying combination of the modular forms, one can create endless variations in the site silhouette.

The buildings in the new residential site are organised into seven neighbourhoods, emerging from the Angerdorf re-design, each with its own character, around a green commons. A bakery with a café is located at the eastern entrance to the area near the school, another at the Heinestraße bus stop in the vicinity of the daycare centre and elderly care facilities.

Public Space

The neighbourhood's public spaces connect to the surrounding green spaces of the Wuhletalweg, the cemetery forest and the wooded areas along the Neuer Schwanebecker Weg. We extend the Wuhle corridor to form a network that merges into the residents' communal and private gardens. This strengthens flora and fauna and allows a revival of historical water management, supplemented by rain gardens and forests using the Miyawaki method to provide cooling and cleaner air.

Our spaces combine different functions and activities. Community gardens provide space for urban gardening, recreation, social interaction and education. Neighbourhood squares give space to markets and events, or simply for resting and watching the hustle and bustle, and the adjoining play and sports zones are suitable for both children and adults.

The history of the place becomes visible: it is surrounded by the cemetery created in 1890 to the north, the Soviet memorial to the south, from the train station you walk along the listed cobblestones of Ulmenallee past the new bakery-meeting point on the way to school-and to the first neighborhood. We are preserving the historic pump house, which is now a museum explaining the water management of yesterday and tomorrow. A second public space is being created at the Heinestraße bus stop, where a café will provide local amenities and a meeting place.

Climate Concept

The project proposes a combined strategy of climate adaptation and climate protection. The site location in at a floodplain with existing historic water management infrastructure enables the project to be set up as a model for a sustainable and attractive residential quarter.

The ecological quality of the Wuhle can be significantly improved, the new neighbourhood’s design, by collecting, naturally treating, and directing large qualities of water to create a constant flow into the Wuhle tributary. This controlled water release is achieved by three different systems.

The light blue network is used for collecting rainwater. A series of water basins channel the rainwater into the dark blue network. Even during heavy rainfall events, the networks can handle large amounts of water. The grey network collects household grey-water and transfers it to the dark blue network by a controlled and ecological process.

The water management system can collect an estimated 29,000 m3 of precipitation per year. This also contributes to cooling the neighborhood. Indeed, about a third of collected water will evaporate in the summer, resulting in a greatly improved microclimate on hot days.

Energy Concept

The neighbourhood has a photovoltaic systems on roofs that can generate around 5,700,000 kWh per year, avoiding 2,479 tons of CO2. Surplus energy is stored in electric vehicles or distributed to households via the district grid.

Geothermal and renewable energy from the transformed gas factory (LEAG) supply the buildings with heating and cooling. A systemic combination of heating supply by means of a combined heat and power plant, heat pumps, and cooling from rain gardens.

Mobility Concept

In Wuhle, Wiese, Wohnen non-motorized traffic has priority. Residential areas are served by one-way streets to avoid through traffic. An additional, separate network of pedestrian paths provides safe and independent mobility, especially for children and the elderly. The area is connected to regional pedestrian and bicycle networks, e.g., the Ostring bicycle expressway to Köpenick.

New bus stops are created at the level of Lindenberger- and Wasserstraße for the regular bus and at the level of Lindenberger- and Ulmenalle for the school bus. Two neighborhood garages are intended to concentrate the volume of vehicles to certain areas, keeping streets as free as possible from parked cars.

Polytan GmbH will be relocated to the north-western part of the site. This will allow frieght traffic to be separated from residents' traffic. The forest strip between the commercial and residential areas creates distance and tranquillity. The green backbone acts as a natural noise barrier against Lindenberger Strasse and the Areta GmbH composting plant.