The jointly developed and administered housing was built upon experience gained from previous self-made projects. Within location’s unique potential the project creates a socially just, economically stable, and environmentally responsible urban building block. Three buildings form a confident and distinct unity in their design and position in the urban space. Open to the river and the neighbors, they do not set themselves off like blocks. The individual and communal terraces have become a distinguishing feature; they offer a much-used compensation for the “loss” of open spaces to the public. This project is a special study case to re-think housing market. Spreefeld, so far, reaches this level, 25% of the area (1905 m2) are cluster units where people live together, 4% (350 m2) is communal space + communal terrace (420 m2). It’s a city in a city, and it works well.
The building design consists of predominantly simple support and construction systems that enable a rich variety of options for the organization of various uses. In this way, no two of the 64 apartment dwellings are alike, although they all follow the same principles. In addition to conventional units there are six cluster apartments that provide a communal living structure for groups of 4 to 21 people. Residents are diverse, multigenerational and multicultural, what made project possible was joint help of people with and without money.
Apartments are barrier-free; there is communal use of laundry rooms, fitness rooms, guest rooms, rooftop terraces, and the music and youth room. In the construction were used only environmentally compatible building materials and the use of wood was reasonably maximized (wood panel exterior wall, wood wool insulation, solid wood balconies). The Passive-House-Standard produce own regenerative energy through a cogeneration-unit, a geo-thermal-system and photovoltaics. The ground floor is largely open to the public, reflecting its attitude to the urban environment. It includes a carpentry workshop, catering kitchen, studios, daycare center, and a co-working space. Available to non-residents are Option Rooms – unassigned, unfinished spaces for community, social, or cultural projects. Option Rooms maintain the project’s open character at the juncture of living and urban development.
Rents are staggered and start at a level on par with government subsidized housing, without having received this subsidy. This has helped many of the Spreefeld residents, who could not otherwise afford to live in the city center under today’s conditions. Just as it was defined and administered from the start, participation has focused on collective concerns, uses, and spaces. The social skills that have developed throughout this process both enrich and facilitate a cooperative way of living. The objectives have been implemented for the most part, and the project generates income in the form of value in its use for both residents and the city. It produces new insights and has become part of the debate, allowing more people to have a say than just the “experts”.