Planning and Entrepreneurship – AESOP YA conference

ISSSresearch&architecture was invited to give a talk at the AESOP YA conference “Planning and Entrepreneurship” in April 2017 in Munich, Germany.

Planning and Entrepreneurship – AESOP YA conference


The role of real-estate ownership for bottom-up initiatives and projects undertaken by new forms of spatial entrepreneurs | Case Study Berlin

Real-estate ownership is a concept, that is rarely questioned today, but rather taken as something generally desirable. If we look at all kinds of advertisements for newly built housing compounds, they all promise us a better life if we own our apartments. Even the urban sprawl during the second half of the 20th century was strongly driven by a desire of owning ones house. That this blind quest for ownership has also had its dark sides and negative effects in history has already been shown clearly by theorists such as David Harvey in his studies on the relationship between neoliberal agendas and their impacts on our cities (Harvey: Rebel Cities, 2012). A certain doubt about the concept of real-estate ownership has certainly reached urban planning experts and partly even public administration, especially in cities such as Paris, Berlin or Hamburg that face severe Gentrification processes and are looking for strategies to meet them in order to reduce their negative impacts, but the main stream of commercial urban development is still using it as a powerful tool.

As the impact of globalised capital on urban development and transformation is permanently increasing and the same processes of commodification of housing and urban space can be observed all around the world, not just in the Global Cities but also reaching out into all scales of our urbanized world (Lefebvre: La revolution urbaine, 1970), the consequences of this interrelations on our daily lives are touching more and more people. This is not only followed by an increasing awareness on urban issues but also in the fact that it provokes self-organised reactions not only to prevent urban niches and non-commercial spaces to disappear, but more interestingly to enable the creation of new ones. Berlin, through its particular history, has a very strong history of self-organized and self-initiated projects that actively produce urban space without the aim to maximize personal profit.

The aim of the present research is to analyse such self-organized and self-initiated projects without the aim to maximize personal profit, throughout realized examples in Berlin and to investigate the role of real-estate ownership throughout the different stages of their processes. The research focuses on four types of projects: 1. permanent temporary users active in inner city areas as pillars of non-commercial urban space, 2. spatial appropriations of existing buildings to provide affordable space for arts and handicrafts on a long-term basis through “Erbaurecht”, 3. DIY project developers and spatial entrepreneurs producing experimental forms of productions of urban space via newly founded “Genossenschaften” and 4. the legal framework provided by the “Mietshäusersyndikat” for self-organised projects. The main questions addressed are to come up with a short history of the concept of real-estate ownership in general and especially its evolution in the second half of the 20th century and to analyse the impact it develops on self-organised projects, which were initiated as reactions to the negative impacts of neoliberal driven urban development. The goal of this investigation is to unveil the interrelations between the concept of classical real-estate ownership and alternative models to it on a long-term perspective.

© Ingrid Sabatier & Stephan Schwarz | ISSSresearch&architecture | November 2016