The character of emptiness
A territorial strategy for East Germany
Gabriel Wulf / Architectural Association School of Architecture
An area in East Germany, marked by a neglected social situation, - demanding a redistribution of resources, a repopulation- , but with embedded unique characteristics, - reaching from wilderness and terrain vagues in the north to historical cultural landscapes in the south -, is being structured by a new field of urban settlements, spanning as an independent, yet connected infrastructure over the triangular area, defined by the highway in between Berlin, Dresden and Leipzig.
The apparent contradiction of a possible repopulation and the preservation of emptiness creates the challenge for the project. Building upon the typical distinction between city and countryside and transforming the current Raumordnung into a field of urban settlements as a social infrastructure to guard and claim the territory, gives the possibility for a new life in the emptiness, that is built on a mutual benefit between settlements and territorial characteristics.
As a long term investment by the government in a social infrastructure, the field of new settlements commits a symbiosis with the existing in a dialogue of centers that take care of social, political and economical responsibilities, while the existing characteristics are strengthened and unfold their potentiality. As new municipalities, the settlements function as cities within a building, but are purely an infrastructure, a raw structural frame provided by the government, that then gets inhabited by the people, materialized as compound of towers reaching into the sky, with minimal footprint but strong visual presence in the territory. The aim is to create incentives for an alternative to the life in the city centers, driven by density, diversity and choice, but in combination with the possibilities and the potential of the context.
As a permanent infrastructural frame, the structure of the settlements are independent from change over time, only following the logic of the typology, that allows to be inhabited in a wide variety of functions, without being deterministic on the specific program. The field of settlements, together with the existing is establishing an overall territorial structure, that is as much created by the intervention as it is driven by the found.