, archived

This blog is an archive of pages I wrote as a few years back up until 2013-ish.

Returned to London in early 2014, where I’m doing a PhD all about groups of older people doing cohousing, initially looking at the UK, but currently some groups back in Berlin who are more established.

I have a short lived second blog just over here at betaville, which didn’t run for long but I might be returning to with thoughts on cohousing / ageing in particular and intentional communities more broadly.

Twitter is @archiberlin (Jim Hudson)

Anyhoo, I’ve stripped out a lot of the stuff about events – meetups, tours, film nights, book clubs and other things that I ran, although there’s still quite a few most recent – keep scrolling down and eventually you’ll get to some content!

At its heart this was a blog about the Berlin IBA of the 1980s – twas my obsession, and I still miss exploring the many hundreds of buildings and projects.

I’ve had to use a new theme (design appearance) to avoid paying for upkeep of an archive. It’s not very intuitive – a link to archives / search function is the horizontal lines top right hand corner. Many links are dead, highlighted in weird colours etc, sorry for that. I might get around to fixing that at some point. But probably not, life is short.

Anyway, in order to overcome some of the faulty links, here’s a summary for IBA things:

IBA ‘Neubau’ projects:

Projects at Tegeler Hafen

Block 1, including O M Ungers

Zaha Hadid and Will Alsop on Stresemannstrasse

Lützowplatz – Block 234, Mario Botta, Peter Cook and others

Down the drain at Dessauerstrasse

 Peter Eisenmann, Rem Koolhaas/OMA – Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie

John Hejduk, Kreuzberg Tower

Block 647 (Part 1)

Block 647 (Part 2) and canal stuff

IBA Block 4 on Kochstrasse, by MBM (Barcelona) and others

Along Kochstrasse: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Rob Krier and others, Ritterstrasse

Rob Krier and others, Rauchstrasse

Block 9, towers on Wilhelmstrasse

Frei Otto and others on Rauchstrasse

O M Ungers at Luetzowplatz (now demolished)

IBA ‘Altbau’ projects:

Heinrich-Zille-Grundschule – Werkfabrik Architekten

Schlesische Strasse 1-9, ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ by Alvaro Siza and round the corner

Kottbusserdamm, Hinrich Baller and others, and Baller on Fraenkelufer

Housing for Elderly, Köpenicker Strasse 190-193

IBA Block 88, Kreuzberg, by Rave/Rave

IBA Berlin Flickr group

Der Hinterhof in Berlin – Brennpunkt des Berliner Städtebaus (3 July 2013)

Short notice, but I’ll be giving a short talk tomorrow with Prof. Harald Bodenschatz at the TU, as part of an event for the launch of the Berlin Urban Design book (see earlier post).

I’ll stick to the point, and they’ll be slides!  All details below:

Der Hinterhof in Berlin
Brennpunkt des Berliner Städtebaus

anlässlich des Erscheinens der zweiten, erweiterten Auflage von
* Städtebau in Berlin. Schreckbild und Vorbild für Europa
* Berlin Urban Design. A Brief History of a European City
Verlag DOM publishers

Zeit: 4. Juli 2013, 18 Uhr
Ort: orangelab, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 2

In der städtebaulichen Debatte fungierte der Hinterhof über Jahrzehnte als schlimmste Verkörperung unmenschlichen Wohnens, als finsterer steinerner Ort ohne jede Nutzungsqualität, als Hölle für aufwachsende Kinder, als Mahnmal der nicht erhaltenswerten, ja unbedingt zu beseitigenden Mietkasernenstadt. Heute ist der Hinterhof wieder rehabilitiert, als ruhiger, oft grüner Raum, dessen Struktur bei Neubauten sogar eine Wiederauferstehung feiert. Kein städtebauliches Element wurde in der jüngeren Städtebaugeschichte dermaßen verteufelt wie der Berliner Hinterhof, und kein städtebauliches Element hat ein solch atemberaubendes Comeback erlebt wie eben jener Hinterhof.

Begrüßung und Moderation
Prof. Dr. Cordelia Polinna, TU Berlin

Von der Hölle zur Idylle
Zur Karriere des Berliner Hinterhofes
Prof. Dr. Harald Bodenschatz, TU Berlin

Comment: An English Perspective on Berlin
Jim Hudson,, Co-Übersetzer der zweiten englischen Auflage

Das Berlinbuch: Start der Reihe „Grundlagen“
Natascha Meuser, Verlag DOM publishers

Eine Veranstaltung des FG Planungs- und Architektursoziologie der TU Berlin
in Kooperation mit dem Verlag DOM publishers

Destruction at Lützowplatz – Final (4 March 2013)

A few years back (scarily, it was 2008, how time flies) I blogged about the partial demolition of an IBA block by O M Ungers.

Sadly, as noted by Isar Steve, the remainder has now come down.

While nothing is sacred, it’s depressing when something thoughtless like this happens, especially as it’s essentially replacing much needed social housing with private luxury development (if anything actually gets built at all).

Berlin Urban Design – A Short History of a European City (25 Feb 2013)

A spot of self-publicity in a way, as the 2nd, revamped edition of Berlin Urban Design, by Harald Bodenschatz, has been published recently, English translation by me*.

I notice that has the old, out-of-date edition, so check carefully before you buy. The new (2nd) edition has additional and extended chapters, bringing the narrative up to date with various current projects, including the building of the glorious new BER airport, due to open in 2012. 2013. 2014 the 21st century**.

I reviewed the original edition on this blog about three years ago, commenting that it was a good book with a poor English translation. As a consequence, I was given the chance to have a go myself, including some updated and additional chapters. Hope you like it.

The book is a short but oh-so-informative history of Berlin’s urban development, cantering quickly through its medieval roots to focus on the city’s colossal 19th century expansion, 20th century utopianism, and post-wall euphoria-to-debt story, with much more along the way. Maps and images are fantastic, text is not too shabby either.

Will bring some copies along to Wednesday’s book club.

* The intro was written in English by Karl Friedhelm Fischer. Original translation of 1st edition by Sasha Disko.

** See press for details. Mayoral careers can go down as well as up.

Archi Book Club, Wed 27th Feb: Calvino’s Invisible Cities (2012)

Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities is a series of descriptions, really conversations, told by a fictitious Marco Polo to an invented Kublai Khan. As Marco travels round the world on the Emperor’s business, his job is not to bring back treasure or trade, but to barter in stories – the accumulated wealth of his imagination.

Here are all the cities ever dreamed of; thin cities, cities and desire, cities and the dead, cities and memory, continuous cites, cities and signs. All are named after women – Raissa, Irene, Phyillis, Chloe… ‘In Chloe, a great city, the people who move through the street are all strangers. At each encounter they imagine a thousand things about one another; meetings which could take place between them, conversations, surprises, caresses, bites. But no-one greets anyone; eyes lock for a second, then dart away, seeking other eyes, never stopping.’

Calvino was writing about Venice – all the Venice’s collapsed, folded or vanished behind the tourist façade. Anyone who loves Venice, knows that its true life is half-glimpsed or dreamed, that the city reconfigures itself, yielding suddenly as you turn into a deserted square, snapping shut, as you walk past San Marco.

Reading Calvino reading Venice is a reminder of how often the controlled, measured world of knowledge fails us. So much of life resists the facts. Imagining Venice is imagining yourself, as Khan discovers – an unsettling exercise, but necessary, perhaps.

(from a review by Jeanette Winterson)

All welcome, so do read the book and join us for drinks, nibbles and discussion at 7.30pm at

Hudson’s Cafe,

Boppstr. 1, 10967

(corner of Schönleinstr., nearest U-Bahn Schönleinstr).

The Fountainhead, Wednesday 23rd January (2012)

There are lots of films that are directly or obliquely about architecture, but not many that are actually about architects (I’m not counting here the kind of films where Tom Hanks plays a neatly widowed architect, shorthand for “creative type with higher/stable income” and pursued by Meg Ryan, with unfailingly tedious consequences).

This film is properly about an architect, in the form of modernist architect Howard Roark, played by Gary Cooper.  Based on the book by the borderline bonkers/proto-libertarian Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead is all about one man’s individualistic stand against the forces of commercialism, mainstream taste, clients and, eventually the rule of law itself.  The main character may or may not be loosely based on Frank Lloyd Wright – in any case he was apparently asked to design the buildings featured in the film, but his fees rather exceeded the budget).

The film was pretty much panned on its release in 1949, and maybe comes under ‘interesting’ rather than classic, but I’ve never seen the whole film so am looking forward to finding out.

8pm, admission free. At Hudson’s Cafe, Boppstraße 1 (corner of Schönleinstraße), 10967.

Book Club, 19th Dec. Jonathan Raban’s Soft City (2012)

Recommended by two of our group, Soft City was written in the early 1970s when Raban lived in London, and is “a vivid, often funny portrait of metropolitan life, Soft City is part reportage, part incisive thesis, part intimate autobiography, and a much-quoted classic of the literature of the city and urban culture.”

An interesting (and much later) piece by Raban himself: