“Gartenheim” (Garden home)

Potential analysis: Transformation of allotment gardens for permanent housing


“GARTENHEIM” (Garden home)

Berlin has more than 900 allotment garden areas with a total of 70.000 plots. Their total area of 3.000 ha take up about 3% of the city’s land area. No comparable metropolis has such a large amount of private gardens close to the city centre. These allotment gardens represent a cultural, social and ecological resource that has grown overtime. They could offer space for approx. 50.000 new households with up to 100.000 inhabitants.

It is proposed to enable these plots for permanent residential purpose without losing their “green” identity. The existing plot structure and the structure of buildings of the allotment gardens are maintained. Permanent housing is enabled only by minor amendments in spatial and infrastructural ways.

Three quarters of the allotments belong to the federal state of Berlin. Through an amendment of the regulatory framework permanent living space for everyone in an inner-city area with a private garden can be created. The allotment gardens that have been so far only temporarily and for leisure pursuits now would become new urban spaces and form a contrast to the classical multi-storey residential buildings.

On the footprint of the allotment gardens would emerge single- or two-storey units, which could provide accommodation for one up to four people. Future users are expected to rethink today’s standards of housing. In return the residents will be provided immediate access to garden, nature and neighbourhood. Through outsourcing of functions into central communal allotment buildings (sharing) additional space and resources can be saved. It is also conceivable that to a lesser extent public and commercial facilities could be accommodated in the allotment gardens. The selling or bartering of self-grown food can be a good starting point.

The allotment gardens would evolve to new city neighbourhoods with a rural character in addition to their function as recreation area. They would maintain their role as an important ecological element within the city despite their extension of use for permanent housing. With the proposed action the allotments would become visible to the public awareness. This could, on the other hand, protect the areas of the allotments from a complete repurposing with growing pressure on the real estate market and their function for the city climate could be stabilized.




Map of existing alloment sites, Berlin and its environment


Typologies in exististing allotment colonies, 2016


Site plan, showing integration of pioneer development for permanent use


Roof forms and permitted height of allotment buildings


Regulations on the dimensions of built structures on allotments plots


Density study


Layout variations and modules


Living space with public and commercial functions (buildling type 5, 6 and 1)


Building type 1 with open and closed facade


Building type 2


Interior with multifunctional furnishing


Interior with wall-integrated furnishing


ProgramAffordable housing and its implementation into the "social city"
StatusBDA design forum
LocationBerlin, Germany
ServicesProgram and location analyses, strategic development, artistic concept, design planning, visualisation
Awards1st prize in the competition “changing city – city of ideas” – August 2014
ExhibitionContribution at the German Pavilion, Venice Architectural Biennale, 27.05. - 27.09. 2016
Contribution to the exhibition: “social housing Berlin”, 40/40, BDA Galerie Berlin, 23.09. – 24.10.13


Press article: Arch+
Press article: Detail Architekturportal