Self-organised urban space without profit

Four examples in Berlin


  • Stephan Schwarz Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg, ISSS
  • Ingrid Sabatier-Schwarz ISSS




Berlin, production of space, self-organisation, real estate, housing


The following article explores the interdependency between urban crisis as a pre-condition for self-organised responses to it and self-organised projects that try to provide solutions for problems caused by the respective crisis. Berlin is taken as specific field of investigation as self-organisation is very much linked to its recent history and it therefore seems to be a very relevant case for this topic. The example of the International Building Exhibition 1984/1987 in Berlin (IBA 84/87) is studied as a historic reference to provide a framework for comparing more recent processes with a long-term experience since the late 1980’. Four recent examples of self-organised projects that aim to provide spaces without profit are presented with the focus on their creation processes. The article further explores the specific relationship between Berlins’ actual housing crisis and various forms of self-organised reactions to it. Finally, the research tries to explore possible impacts these projects might have on formal local planning structures in a long-term perspective.




Bauwelt (Ed.) (2014): Bauwelt 39.2014 – Neue Genossenschaften, Bauwelt Verlag, Berlin

Bodenschatz, Harald; Lumpugnani, Vittorio Magnago; Sonne, Wolfgang; Deutsches Institut für Stadtbaukunst (Ed.) (2012): 25 Jahre Internationale Bauausstellung Berlin 1987, Niggli Verlag, Sulgen

Burdett, Ricky; Sudjic, Deyan; Urban Age Institute (Ed.) (2010): The endless city, Phaidon, London

Dell, Christopher (2014): Das Urbane – Wohnen.Leben.Produzieren., Jovis, Berlin

Dell, Christopher (2014): Ware Wohnen, Jovis, Berlin

Harvey, David (2013): Rebel cities, Verso, Berlin

Jacobs, Jane (1961): The Death and Life of great American cities, Random House, New York

LaFond, Michael; id22 (Ed.) (2012): Co-housing cultures, Jovis, Berlin

Lefebvre, Henri (1974): La production de l’espace, Paris

Mitscherlich, Alexander (1965): Die Unwirtlichkeit unserer St dte. Anstiftung zum Unfrieden, Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin

Oswalt, Philipp (2000): Berlin_Stadt ohne Form – Strategien einer anderen Architektur, Prestel Verlag,München – London – New York

Overmeyer, Klaus; Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung der Stadt Berlin (Ed.) (2006): Urban Pioneers, Jovis, Berlin

Overmeyer, Klaus (Ed.) (2014): Raumunternehmen, Jovis, Berlin

Piketty, Thomas (2014): Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Belknap Press, Cambridge MA

Ring, Kristien (2013): Self Made City, Jovis, Berlin

Ring, Kristien (2015): Urban Living, Jovis, Berlin

Schwarz, Stephan (2009): polytopos ISO– U– HETERO Szenario* für eine POLYTOPISCHE

Stadtentwicklung in Paris | * in Theorie und Praxis (Diplomarbeit an der TU Graz), Eigenverlag, Graz

Sabatier, Ingrid; Schwarz, Stephan (2012): Stadtschaum - Studie zu den Formen informeller Aspekte der Stadt. Case Study Istanbul – Berlin – Mumbai, Eigenverlag, Berlin

Senatsverwaltung für Bau- und Wohnungswesen Berlin, S.T.E.R.N Gesellschaft der behutsamen Stadteneuerung Berlin mbH (Ed.) (1991): Internationale Bauausstellung Berlin 1987 – Projektübersicht, Felgentreff & Goebel, Berlin

Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung Berlin, Urban Expert (Ed.) (2010): IBA 87’ in Berlin – wissenschaftliche Studie, Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung Berlin, Berlin