By Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016

© Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) / Something Fantastic

German Pavillon: Making Heimat. Germany, Arrival Country. by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

MAKING HEIMAT. GERMANY, ARRIVAL COUNTRY is a response to the arrival of over a million refugees in Germany during 2015. The need for temporary accommodation on short-call is urgent, but just as urgent is the need for new ideas and reliable approaches to integration.

The Pavilion is Open by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Four large openings in the walls of the German Pavilion have transformed it into an open house. Over 48 tons of brick were removed from the landmark-protected walls. The pavilion is open. Germany is open. Last year, Germany’s borders were kept open to receive over a million refugees. Although currently the EU borders are largely closed for refugees, the gesture of opening the house is a call to rethink Germany as a welcoming nation for immigrants.

The Open Pavilion, Felix Torkar, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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The opening of the German Pavilion and its transformation into a lively public space was developed in collaboration with Something Fantastic. For these Berlin-based architects, opening up the pavilion is not only a political, urban planning, and architectural statement, but also a welcoming gesture for exhibition visitors. They’ve provided indoor and outdoor seating, free WLAN, power stations, white plastic chairs, and an ayran fountain that will be running during the opening days of the Biennale, operated by a Lebanese caterer from Mestre, the Arrival City in Venice.The opening of the walls was carefully coordinated with Emanuela Carpani, the head of the Venetian office of monument preservation.

The Open Pavilion, Felix Torkar, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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The three-sided steel frames are earthquake-proof and will be removed when the openings are bricked in again. Nevertheless it cannot be denied: a massive intervention is being made into the material of the monument itself - an intervention that amounts to a new interpretation of the German Pavilion.

The Arrival City Is a Network of Immigrants, Felix Torkar, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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The Arrival City Is Informal by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


With the exhibition the DAM is using examples from Germany’s Arrival Cities to pose for discussion a series of theses developed in collaboration with the Canadian author Doug Saunders. His book Arrival City: How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Our World has inspired a shift in perspective on immigrant districts—a shift that is also applicable to Germany. Although these districts are typically characterized as “problem areas,” they offer residents and new arrivals the most important prerequisites of an Arrival City: affordable housing, access to work, small-scale commercial spaces, good access to public transit, networks of immigrants from the same culture, as well as a tolerant attitude that extends to the acceptance of informal practices.

The Arrival City Is a City within a City by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Immigrants Look for Opportunities in Areas of Urban Density.

The Most Important Arrival Cities in Germany, Something Fantastic, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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The figures show a city’s foreign population compared to the foreign population of its Arrival City. The number of residents with a “migration background” is considerably higher than the foreign population figures. A migration background describes people who do not have German citizenship as well as German citizens who have a foreign parent. Example: In Berlin-Neukölln, 21.1 percent of residents are foreigners, but double this amount of residents have a migration background (41.6 percent). Sources: Local Statistical Offices

The Arrival City Is Affordable by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


For Cities to Be Attractive, Rents Must Be Low.

Typically, migrants move to major cities for two reasons: firstly, because they assume they will have greater opportunities there, and secondly, because this is where many of their compatriots live—i.e. members of their own minority—from whom they expect support. These are “transitional spaces” where migrants remain for a period of time, depending on their financial status. Here they find cheap housing, ethnic retail stores, religious facilities, and the chance of a job or self-employment.

Jürgen Friedrichs, sociologist

Miet-Map,, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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Only four stations to the East of Frankfurt’s central subway hub Konstablerwache are the stations Offenbach-Kaiserlei, Ledermuseum, and Marktplatz in the districts of Nordend and Stadtmitte (city). Offenbach’s perfect public transport connections make it the ideal Arrival City for Frankfurt.

The Arrival City Is Close to Business by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Jobs Emerge Where There Are Already Jobs. A Good Public Transport System Is Essential.

The Kebab Restaurant “Ützel Brützel”, die arge lola, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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EXAMPLE: STUTTGART Forty-three percent of the population have a migrant background. This is a higher share than in Berlin, Hamburg, or Cologne. Stuttgart offers opportunities for advancement in one of the strongest economic regions of Europe. Back in the nineteen-sixties, companies such as Daimler, Bosch, and Porsche started hiring foreign workers from southern Europe on a large scale. Even among young people with foreign roots unemployment is, at 4 percent, barely higher than among their German cohorts. The mayors of Stuttgart have made integration a top priority. Wolfgang Schuster, who was in charge from 1997 until 2013, simply abolished the concept of foreign: “Anyone living in Stuttgart is a Stuttgarter,” the CDU politician declared programmatically in 2001 (the CDU is a liberal-conservative political party). The migrants were supposed to become part of civic society—“good citizens of Stuttgart, people that achieve something, be it in business, in science, or in culture.” Amber Sayah, journalist

A Turkish shopping mall opened in former factory buildings on Mauserstrasse in Stuttgart-Feuerbach. Like at the Dong Xuan Center in Berlin-Lichtenberg migrant businesses and community facilities bring new life into an industrial area.

The Arrival City Is Informal by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Tolerating Semi-Legal Practices Can Make Sense.

Dong Xuan Center by Kiên Hoàng LêGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

EXAMPLE: DONG XUAN CENTER, BERLIN-LICHTENBERG The Dong Xuan Center is a huge trading center for goods and services of all kinds deep in East Berlin. The property is zoned commercial, which means that only wholesale business can be operated here and, in exceptional cases, services. But hardly anyone abides by this. Those who end up at the Dong Xuan Center are mostly people who have migrated from central Vietnam as well as from China, India, and Pakistan to escape poverty. In many cases they are unqualified and have no knowledge of German, and some of them don’t have a work or residence permit either. As a result, the 88,900 m2 facility in Berlin-Lichtenberg has seen a shadow economy with lighter and darker gray areas establish itself, although many people have managed to make the step up from illegality into regular employment.
Marietta Schwarz, journalist

Dong Xuan Center by Kiên Hoàng LêGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

About a thousand people work at the Dong Xuan Center in Berlin-Lichtenberg, many of them twelve to fifteen hours a day. The infrastructure allows new arrivals to start working almost immediately. Anyone who does not want to lease commercial space right away can tear the appropriate phone number from an announcement on the notice board: “Waitress wanted for Vietnamese restaurant” or “Cook wanted for Chinese restaurant.”

The Arrival City Is Self-built by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Strict Housing Construction Regulations Should Not Be Allowed to Stand in the Way of Much-needed Self-built Solutions.

Praunheim meets Iquique, Tadeuz Jalocha, 2004 / © Hermann Collischonn, 1929. Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, Deutsches Kunstarchiv, Collage: Felix Torkar, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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EXAMPLE: PRAUNHEIM MEETS IQUIQUE Frankfurt suffered poverty in the interwar years, and above all, a dire shortage of housing. In the course of the “Neues Frankfurt” housing program—and within a very short period up to 1930—twelve thousand residential units were constructed. From the start they have been extended, both vertically and horizontally, to meet their owners’ need for more space. Adding cheerful colors and the occasional flamboyant stylistic gesture, the owners have turned roof gardens into permanent living space, built extensions encroaching on allotment gardens, and constructed entrance porches on the street frontage. Peter Körner and Philipp Sturm, curators

Praunheim meets Iquique, Peter Körner, 2011 / Cristobal Palma, 2006, Collage: Felix Torkar, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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The Arrival City is on the Ground Floor by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Learning from Neukölln by Florian TheinGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

The series “Learning from Neukölln” by the photographer Florian Thein shows ground floor scenes in Berlin-Neukölln.

Learning from Neukölln by Florian TheinGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

Since the 1990s, the increase in self-employed migrant workers has been considerably higher than among the native German population. Explanation:
1. the niche model—being self-employed allows one to develop specific qualities and skills and to serve one’s own community;
2. the culture model—self-employment is very important in many countries of origin (in southern Europe the rate of self-employment is much higher than in Germany);
3. the response model—self-employment as a response to the increasing difficulty of finding other ways of earning a living on the job market.
All three models suggest that making spatial resources available for the development of a small-scale “ethnic economy” is extremely important. After all, the vast majority of the self-employed, especially when they first start out, do not take up large areas and must try to keep financial risk to a minimum.
Maren Harnack, urbanist and Christian Holl, architecture critic

The Arrival City Is a Network of Immigrants by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Ethnically Homogenous Districts Enable Community Networks.

Mevlana Mosque by Judith Raum, 2010 / BBSRGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

Segregation represents a necessary and inevitable step towards integration. Immigrants tend to move to areas where they can be close to compatriots who have been living there for some time. The city, with its patchwork of diverse microcosms, offers these kind of transitional spaces where the shock of migration is mitigated. But then again, a segregated milieu is always in danger of becoming a trap. So far, however, we have no grounds whatsoever to talk about ghettos or parallel societies in Germany. Moreover, talk of ghettos dramatizes the situation dangerously, since such labels are not without consequences: the German middle class and the better placed migrants move away from neighborhoods that have been stigmatized in this way.
Walter Siebel, sociologist

Billstraße, Hamburg by Philipp Reiss (DIE ZEIT)Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016

Discarded goods without any further use in Germany are collected on Billstrasse in Hamburg-Rothenburgsort, five kilometers southeast of the central station. Migrants without working permits are employed as day laborers in Hamburg’s informal economy: They carry, they pack, they load. Usually, the products are shipped to African countries. What cannot be sold or processed ends up in local landfills.

Hamburg Billstraße

The “Thaiwiese” (Thai meadow) by Jakob HuberGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

The “Thaiwiese” (Thai meadow) in the Preussen Park in Berlin-Wilmersdorf is a popular place to gather for members of the Thai community in Berlin. There, the Asian diaspora meets up for meals, to build new networks, and to speak their mother tongue. Asian specialties are sold at small stands for little money, which are now known across the entire city. The “Thaiwiese” is a successful example that shows how informal urbanism can work on the basis of immigrant networks.

The Arrival City Needs the Best Schools by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


The Worst Neighborhoods Demand the Very Best Schools to Educate Local Children.

Rütli Campus by Josephine Dannheisig / Christopher DomakisGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

EXAMPLE: RÜTLI SCHOOL In 2006, the Rütli high school in the Reuter-Kiez neighborhood of Berlin-Neukölln became a parade ground for camera teams, photographers, and journalists from all over. The teenagers knew exactly what their teachers thought of them and played their roles as delinquents perfectly. A boy who had just lost his milk teeth played the part of the most evil gangster very cutely, boasting: “I am the Godfather of Neukölln!”
Yet the Rütli scandal offended the pride of some responsible politicians. The then district mayor, Heinz Buschkowsky, hatched a plan to use the Rütli school to show how things could be done differently and put his full weight behind a concept to establish a “Campus Rütli.” A formerly “dirty word” now became a brand name. In an area occupying almost 50,000 square meters, a new social space for about five thousand local residents was to be created, a space in which the children of Arab and Turkish newcomers to Berlin would have a fair chance.
Mechthild Küpper, journalist

Offenbach Is Almost All Right by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


Offenbach Block by Felix TorkarGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

Offenbach has a long tradition of immigration. It functions as an “arrival destination” at the center of the Frankfurt/Rhein-Main area, a global metropolitan region with a high proportion of immigrants.
152 nations are represented in the population. Former migrant workers still make up the largest individual national groups, mainly Turks, Italians, and Greeks. Over the last ten to fifteen years other national groups have begun to arrive from the new EU member states in eastern and southeastern Europe, but also from Asia, North Africa, and other parts of the world. Within the “older” groups of immigrants from southern Europe and Turkey, a growing number of people, mostly from the second and third generations, are going on to higher education. There has been a large rise in the number of Turkish students attending high school, and many more of them are now going to university.
Homogeneous ethnic milieus can also be “upwardly mobile” if, for example, education is highly valued and a factor in gaining recognition and status within the group, as is the case for many migrants from Asia. However, homogeneous milieus can also be obstructive if, for fear of becoming a social outcast, they lead people to isolate themselves or to curb their educational ambitions and career aspirations.
Matthias Schulze-Böing, head of the Office for Labor Promotion, Statistics, and Integration of the City of Offenbach

OSMAN GÖVERIM by Jessica SchäferGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

OSMAN GÖVERIM, the forty-four-year-old café owner, is an Offenbacher born and bred and a unique phenomenon. Not just because he is a socially engaged Star Wars fan who decorates his café near the market square with stills, masks, and figures from the films. And not just because he has a Hummer sitting in a garage next door that he drives at most 3,000 miles a year, most of them through mud and debris. On the side, he also finds time to save his city.
A little bit at least. The street where Göverim opened his “Nerd Cantina” about ten years ago had long been an eyesore. Stores changed all the time and many were shady in some way. Now Göverim is campaigning as part of an interest group for the improvement of the street. Neither at school nor in his career has Göverim ever felt disadvantaged by the fact that he is the grandson of Turkish immigrants, proud Istanbulites. In school he struggled more to cope with the fact that he didn’t like studying, and today it’s only when people give him funny looks if he orders a pork schnitzel and a beer that he’s reminded of his background.
Denise Peikert, journalist

Refugee Housing Projects by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016


The buildings displayed on the walls represent a selection of refugee shelters that the DAM has gathered on the website, also presented in printed form on the stone pedestals. The selection is not intended to be an evaluation, but rather an exhibition of built prototypes. In addition to its architectural design and urban arrangement, the quality of a residential building for refugees largely depends on its location and distance to the nearest Arrival City, on local conditions and support, and, last but not least, on the individual prospects for the future—how long and under what circumstances are refugees expected to live there? The DAM will continue to monitor the projects once they are completed. For now, this display demonstrates the different approaches available for creating living space in diverse settings.

The road from first admittance, to shared accommodation, to ultimately having one’s own home is the typical process of asylum in Germany.

One essential question remains: how do you create cost-effective housing for everyone?

Project partners: The architecture magazine Bauwelt Berlin Award 2016 – Heimat in der Fremde, an international call for projects by the City of Berlin for innovative approaches to refugee housing.

Duldung (Toleration): Life at the Refugee Camps, Stefanie Zofia Schulz, From the collection of: Germany - Biennale Architettura 2016
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The series Duldung (toleration) by photographer Stefanie Zofia Schulz shows life in the reception center for asylum-seekers on the outskirts of the town of Lebach in Saarland. Officially, refugees should not stay longer than one year before being assigned to a municipality. But some people stay significantly longer.

Refugee Housing Projects by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

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The Open Pavilion by Kirsten BucherGermany - Biennale Architettura 2016

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