Housing shortage – How cities worldwide create housing

How cities create living space worldwide

In Iquique, Chile, residents have a gap to self-cultivation. In Zurich, squatters provide inspiration and in Japan old residential traditions.

Eight-euro housing construction in Hamburg

Image result for Neugraben-FischbekCranes protrude into a mausgrauen summer sky, rough buildings line the streets. At first glance, the new development area of ​​the Neugraben-Fischbek district of Hamburg does not make a dazzling impression on this cloudy August day. But in Merlingasse, corner of Fingerhutweg, something is going on. Advertising banners flutter, chunks and cold drinks are prepared. A small festive party listens devoutly, as the building Senator Dorothee Stapelfeldt (SPD) says: “Maybe we open a new chapter in urban development history.”

 In a focus week, we are dedicated to contributions and discussions of the question “How is living affordable again?”. Eight-euro housing is the buzzword for the initiative, which the Hamburg Senate has launched as a model project with the urban development company IBA. The idea: The city does not keep the rental price low by subsidies, but by contracting investors to buy land for a net cold rent of eight euros per square meter for five years. An insurance company from Switzerland has agreed to the deal and is building an ensemble of two four-storey multi-family houses in solid wood construction in Neugraben-Fischbek. Close to nature should be the building, also have a favorable energy balance. Above all, he should offer quality of living despite low costs.

Whether this contradiction actually becomes a future concept is an exciting question. “Our task was to question what is the core of quality living,” says architect Heiner Limbrock. Without compromising the relatively low rent is therefore not to have. Lower floor plans and lower ceilings should make construction more efficient, but interfere with the light. There is no elevator, just a shaft to retrofit if necessary – many apartments are therefore initially not barrier-free. In addition, few parking spaces are planned, but all the more bicycle storage. Will this concept of slimmed-down home comforts come to fruition? “We’ll have to check that out,” says Karen Pein, Managing Director of the IBA.

The Hamburg Senate is already so convinced of the eight-euro housing construction that he wants to make it the standard on the free housing market – possibly with longer locks for the first rent increase. “Groundbreaking” Senator Stapelfeldt calls the project. Others are less optimistic. For example, Jens P. Meyer, city development spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, says: “An investor must generate a reasonable rental yield, which means that in more sought-after locations and on the open market this model project will hardly be successful.” Wait.

How will living become affordable again? Discuss with us!

That’s what this week’s workshop is Democracy of the SZ. Today you can have a say in Munich – register now. By Sabrina Ebitsch more …

Half houses in Chile

Half houses in Chile

Nothing is as sad as the sight of Iquique, wrote the widely traveled Charles Darwin when he reached the desert city on the Pacific in 1835. At that time she still belonged to Peru, today she lies in the north of Chile, a beauty Iquique is still not. The place is mainly frequented by business travelers who invest their money in the surrounding copper mines, as well as gambling addicts and gamblers, who run riot in the largest duty-free zone in South America. And finally, by architecture students from all over the world who are interested in 93 small houses. Quinta Monroy is the name of the settlement, which is said to have revolutionized social housing.

On a fallow-field in the center, about a hundred families lived in barracks until 2002, some of them had resisted their expulsion for nearly 30 years. Then the then unknown architect Alejandro Aravena from Santiago de Chile got the public contract to build permanent dwellings for these people. What he did not get: enough money to implement the project. The solution to this dilemma earned him the 2016 Pritzker Prize, the Oscar of Architecture.

Aravena, 51, found the answer because he modified the question. He did not ask how customary in social housing until then: what kind of bad house do we want to build? But: how much of a good house? His idea followed a compelling logic: If you only have half of the necessary budget available, then you have to build half houses.

Each family of Quinta Monroy got a concrete foundation, a roof, a kitchen, a bathroom, a 30-square-foot room and an equally large gap – the second half to DIY. It was the architectural variant of the famous help for self-help. Urban pragmatism paired with the ideal of participation. The residents were involved in the process right from the start. And indeed, just a few years later, almost all 93 families had completed their house. Some filled their gaps with wood, others with brick. Some painted the façade green, others pink, others did not paint at all. The overall result is quite photogenic: the rectilinear exposed concrete of a gifted master builder meets favela style.

The international criticism is still enthusiastic today. Only in Chile itself is the enthusiasm not quite so unanimous. There are, among other things, moral objections: Do you actually expect hard-working people to finish their social housing after work? Do the residents really enjoy “flexible structures” or do they just want a working house? If you do not only know Quinta Monroy from photos, you will also see that the reality is not quite as pretty as digital image editing suggests. In addition, Aravenas had apparently not considered that cars in Iquique are more important status symbols than apartments. The inner courtyards of the settlement were designed in its design as green open spaces where neighbors meet and children should play. Today it is crowded parking.

Palaces for the proletariat in Vienna

Palaces for the proletariat in Vienna

For many tenants, the place of longing is called: Vienna. In order to fight the devastating housing shortage, the city swung itself to the client at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, social housing is considered exemplary, far beyond Austria’s borders. The city manages 220,000 apartments, plus another 200,000 publicly subsidized rental and co-operative housing. They offer so many Viennese a place to live that life in the social construction is no longer a stigma here, but the norm. 62 percent of the people live in a community building. One of them is Herbert Studeny. He has spent his whole life here, Stiege 2, fourth floor, “Karl-Michal-Hof”.

That’s how living is

No, the real estate market does not have to obey the laws of cynicism: In Vienna, politics has always cared about the tenants and not the speculators, because housing is seen as a fundamental right. The result is enviable. By Peter Münch more …

Squatter idea in Zurich

Squatter idea in Zurich


Zurich – Zurich of all places. A city that stands for chic banking towers in Europe like no other, for expensive shopping streets and a rather exclusive lifestyle – this city attracts visitors from all over the world who are interested in new, affordable forms of living.

A few years ago, in one of the most attractive residential areas of Zurich, the city granted an unusual joint housing project. Families, shared apartments and individuals live together in different large clusters, there are meeting rooms, common roof gardens, party rooms, couch corners. The idea comes from the squatter scene.

There is not much that is normally shared by households: an underground car park, for example. Anyone wishing to move in the Kalkbreite – this is the title of the residential building opened in 2014 – undertakes not to own a car. Because cars, in which the residents are, in addition to a bio-supermarket, which manages almost no plastic packaging, also offer a Greenpeace office space, there are already too many in the city anyway. At the beginning, therefore, the project had to take a lot of criticism, was considered the favorite utopia of the red-green city council, which helps deserving politicians and loyal supporters with taxpayers to a cheap apartment. Meanwhile, this criticism has fallen silent.

No one denies that the limestone width works. The cluster flats are fairly cheap thanks to cooperative financing, the waiting lists are long. 260 people and 200 jobs have found their place in the middle of the city. And although each resident only about 34 square meters are available – the Swiss average is 45 square meters. In the Kalkbreite the generous common areas create what every living room has to do for itself. This is what urban planners call “compacted living”. A magic word.

When the Munich city council visited the model settlement in 2017, they showed themselves impressed, but also irritated. At home in Bavaria, “every occupied house is cleared within 24 hours”, the visitors reported – and did not seem so sure that this was actually a good thing.

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