Wohnhof Lima is a residential courtyard development at the corner plot of Lindenstrasse( 81–84 ) and Markgrafenstrasse (5–8), hence called the LiMa and was a part of the International Bauaustellung of 1984/87 IBA Berlin 1987. It was designed by Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger with architect Henk de Weijer in contact with architects Inken Baller and Hinrich Baller who ensured that Hertzberger’s ideas were appropriately translated into the German construction reality.
The goal through of the new construction in the residential courtyard was to follow the existing residential remnants and plan for the closure of the building block. This was intended to recapture the public street, the courtyard, the old buildings (Victoria building) and the new buildings from the 1960s and 70s, and the new Church.
Furthermore, the development of different forms of living and the participation of future residents in the planning, expansion and administration were among the objectives of the new building project. Construction began in December 1984, but a final building permit was only granted in March 1985. Moving into the apartments began in spring 1986. Construction was finally completed in the summer of 1986.
Berliner-zeitung in a recent interview with Inken Baller and Herman Hertzberger throw light on the ideas of Hertzberger and how they were received by the Berlin planning authorities. Light falls into the apartment from two sides, like in classic Dutch “living-in houses”: from the entrance and the window. Hertzberger actually wanted the kitchens to have direct contact with the stairwell. The counter, behind which cleverly hides the crockery, would then also be the entrance area. Baller still reports with amusement how horrified the German building authorities were: you couldn't get in through the kitchen, where would the privacy be, where would the fire protection! "It was a fight," says Baller. With Hertzberger, however, she realized that only a small and glazed entrance hall had to be built. The light can now come through the glass and a middle ground could be reached with the planing department. "The authorities could not imagine that a building could be so open, so little completed. With the balconies and stairwells, an open floor plan, the idea of creating the bedroom right next to the kitchen or sharing a terrace with the neighbor. That didn't fit into the German social building standard.
"Hertzberger modestly explains in the interview, “The architect sets the standards for social contacts. When you leave your house, the apartment, you have to come into a community, you have to meet. We greet each other, we know that we are there. And then sometimes you have a coffee and chat.”
Building description and construction
The residential complex has 48 residential units around a residential courtyard. It adjoins two seven-story residential buildings to the north and starts to descend, to the south it closes off the block edge development in a semi-circle. The structures adjoining the existing development were five and a half storey, while the rest of the development is three storey. Access is via five passageways to the inner courtyard and the stairwells attached to it, which are intended as "vertical streets". There are also three further stairwells and passageways to the north, which enable the apartments located there to be accessed through the courtyard behind them between the existing living quarters. There is an underground car park under the courtyard.
The residential complex was built in solid construction. In contrast to the transparently designed stairwells, the outer walls were plastered and painted white and divided by the wooden windows with exposed reinforced concrete lintels, the reinforced concrete columns up to 6 meters high and the reinforced concrete slabs of the balconies. Hertzberger's basic principle of staggering public, semi-public and private spaces, which enables the residents to live together in a balanced manner, was implemented from the urban planning concept to the floor plan (see above). There were no structural changes on the outside. In the archive of construction files, there are certainly no undesirable changes to documents regarding the installation of a gallery level in a maisonette apartment, in the sense of user participation in the construction.
The open courtyard an integral part of the program, artistically designed by Hertzberger's daughter, it was the meeting point for parties, gatherings or the complex's own daycare center, which continues to exist till today and also accepts children from the surrounding blocks. A new daycare center has now been built directly opposite. From the courtyard, the workshop, the community spaces and fitness room branch off and a central staircase leads to the underground car park. In the beginning there was a regular gathering of pregnant women and for a long time a FoodCoop ran from the court.
Due to the initiative by the residents, their pressure, documentation and debate the residential courtyard has recently been listed as a monumental site. The original inventory in the LiMa, down to the simple concrete walls, gray stones, glittering tiles, slender steel railings, wooden double windows or glass blocks, is phenomenally well preserved. It was precisely this mix of materials that was a widespread motif in Dutch architecture from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Today, A mixed population lives in the block, as do many families with children. At noon there is a multicultural crowd of children on the play equipment. People often cut across the courtyard to enjoy a pleasant shortcut to work, curious young architects from around the world sit in the courtyard, taking pictures and drawing and the white walls and exposed concrete beams of the structure are all mostly if not entirely covered in a blanket of green, probably just like Hertzberger had envisioned it.