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Location Berlin, Zernsdorf-Königs Wusterhausen (DE)
Dates 2016
Status final project at the Universität der Künste (UdK) Berlin mentored by Prof. Jean-Philippe Vassal

→ Read: Research on the Berlin Islands

The Berlin Islands - a plea for a common living on the water in the metropolitan region of Berlin-Brandenburg

The theme of my final study project - Living on / - and by the water in the outskirts of Berlin - started with a fascination. A fascination with the way in which many realise their lifelong dream, with the help of current regional politics, local authorities, private investors and the construction industry: they build  their bungalow on a piece of garden, preferably near a lake.
How has this phenomenon taken root in the historical context and landscape of Brandenburg and Berlin is the first part of my research. I then asked myself what alternative the 'waterscape' of the metropolis could be confronted with.
The project for the conversion and densification of a former industrial site, ZeBeDa, in Zernsdorf (south-east of Berlin, illustrates on a local scale a strategy that extends the local level, illustrates a strategy that extends to the entire territory of the metropolis.

What is the future of urbanisation in Berlin?
The phenomenon of urban sprawl in cosmopolitan Berlin is particularly present along a much sought-after waterfront. Instead of mixed functions and uses along the waterfront, a boundary is established: the peri-urban areas and their shores live as satellites of the capital, forming its infinite and immobile border.

This kind of desertification caused by single-purpose urbanisation - housing - is gradually replacing the original desert - the abandoned historical infrastructure or industry that are still scattered along  the waterfront and elsewhere in the territory of the metropolis.

But through this new form of desertification, it is not only the  disused buildings, i.e. an architectural substance but also the historical roots of the shores and lakes around Berlin. It is part of Brandenburg and Berlin's common identity.
The costly rehabilitation of these buildings requires a courageous and diverse approach to urban planning and programming that opens up the idea of an urban way of life by the water.
The former industrial sites and other disused complexes that mark the landscape of Brandenburg and Berlin form an archipelago (
→ see research) of high-potential architectures which, if inhabited, rehabilitated and densified, could give the metropolis back a part of its history and culture. While preserving its watery landscape: its forests, fields, its public beaches, its water.

At the turn of the 21st century, two investors got very interested in the Zernsdorf's brownfields. The former industrial sites were sold and a company, "Wohnen am See GmbH" [Living at the lake], was founded. Single-family houses started to spring up like mushrooms on the former industrial site, where only a chimney could be saved. The second construction phase was located on the site of the former concrete and coating materials factory in Zernsdorf (ZeBeDa), which was destined for the same fate.
The confrontation between these two situations symbolically reflects the future challenges and problems of the waterfront area in the entire metropolis. Here, two ways of living on the waterfront could develop side by side on the Krüppelsee: on the one hand, brand new, unfinished detached houses on the one hand; on the other hand,  large spaces from various eras of Zernsdorf's industrial history and could be rehabilitated into generous, green and urban living spaces, with pile dwellings prolonging the new ZeBeDa community.

Architectural designer & researcher

Master of Arts in Architecture

©2024 · Salomé Wackernagel · Architecture

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