The excursion report by architect and assistant professor Sevince Bayrak.

Weiße Stadt. Also known as Schweizer Viertel, in Berlin-Reinickendorf. Unesco World Heritage since 2008
Weiße Stadt Also known as Schweizer Viertel, in Berlin-Reinickendorf. Unesco World Heritage since 2008 © Kubra Karakaya
New residential construction. In the settlement Schiller Park
New residential construction In the settlement Schiller Park © Selen Sonmez
Weiße Stadt. Courtyards
Weiße Stadt Courtyards © Selen Sonmez
Weiße Stadt. Photo taken from the terrace of  the bridge building
Weiße Stadt Photo taken from the terrace of the bridge building © Oyku Omur
Brand new and very old. Squat (
Brand new and very old Squat ("besetztes Haus") in Berlin-Mitte © Deniz Torun
Rückerstraße. In Berlin-Mitte
Rückerstraße In Berlin-Mitte © Kadir Mert Tatar
Semi-public hof. Berlin-Mitte, near Hackescher Markt
Semi-public hof Berlin-Mitte, near Hackescher Markt © Cansu Gosterisli
Hof. Schönhauser Allee, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
Hof Schönhauser Allee, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg © Kubra Karakaya
Spreefeld. Berlin-Mitte
Spreefeld Berlin-Mitte © Cansu Gosterisli
Bauhaus building. In Dessau
Bauhaus building In Dessau © Arda Yayci
L40. Von Roger Bundschuh und Cosima von Bonin. Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin-Mitte
L40 Von Roger Bundschuh und Cosima von Bonin. Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin-Mitte © Kubra Karakaya
Berliner Philharmonie. By German architect Hans Scharoun
Berliner Philharmonie By German architect Hans Scharoun © Deniz Torun
GSW Hauptverwaltung. By Sauerbruch & Hutton; Berlin-Kreuzberg
GSW Hauptverwaltung By Sauerbruch & Hutton; Berlin-Kreuzberg © Oyku Omur

Unlike my previous visits, this excursion to Berlin with 23 students, and 7 colleagues, for the architectural design studio we are doing with Arda Inceoglu, were much of a thematic trip rather than a touristic one. This semester the theme was housing, which is also the subject of our studio. We got a glimpse of several types of housing, each displays the characteristics of the era they were constructed. On our first day, we saw the typical examples of "Mietskaserne" around Prenzlauer Berg. We explored some old and new "Höfe" around Mitte while we ran into a recently designed architect's house and office, located on top of an art gallery in Brunnenstrasse 9. On the second day, we visited Schillerpark, to see the first examples of modern housing projects by Bruno Taut and others. Then, we headed to the Weiße Stadt, where we had a chance to visit the bridge building and have a look over the Siedlung. Next morning, we took a train to Dessau to see the famous Bauhaus building, and Masters' houses and everything about modern architecture in the 20s became more clear. Our final day started with a visit to Jewish Museum, although it was not in our program, we couldn't resist the students' will to see that building, and the freezing weather was also a good reason to spend some time indoors. Then we walked from the museum to the Friedrichstrasse to see the IBA buildings from the 1980's: The courtyard of Hertzberger's Wohnhof Lima, across Jewish museum, made us feel good, with its balconies and lively courtyard while Kreuzberg Tower would be more appreciated if we could have a chance to get inside. After seeing Checkpoint Charlie apartments, we finished the day with a visit to Spreefeld, a recent "Baugruppe" project, which is an alternative solution to housing problem in Berlin. There, we tried to get some clues to export for the housing problem we have in Istanbul. However, it seemed more like an utopia to design and build within such a system in Istanbul, where the bureaucracy will be a big obstacle, unlike the case in Berlin.

"The majority of the class chose to live in the Mietskaserne"

When we came back to Istanbul, and made a retrospective overview of our trip, I asked the students which of the housing types we had seen, would be their favorite to live in. Among all those buildings, the "Siedlungen" from the 1920's, the Masters' Houses, IBA buildings, new and cool "Baugruppe" projects – the majority of the class chose to live in the Mietskaserne, which was once subject to demolition, but recently became a star of the gentrification. In fact, the story of rental barracks is quite similar to the recent transformation story in Istanbul: Just like "earthquake" used as a reason to justify the regeneration of urban texture in Istanbul, rental barracks were blameworthy using "hygiene" as an excuse, during the industrialization of Berlin. The students' choice to live in the Mietskaserne was easy to understand. Almost everything we saw, had some aspect of the Mietskaserne. Even if they were built to replace the old, anti-hygienic dwelling types, the designers and architects tried to incorporate some features of it, mostly ideal, if not formal, like the brick decoration of the entrances in Schillerpark, the inner courtyards of Wohnhof Lima, the common areas of Spreefeld … It seems that they all came out of Mietskaserne's overcoat.

MEF University students. At the Schillerpark, Berlin. 
This excursion to Berlin took place from 16–20 January 2016 – for the second year undergraduate architectural studio, which is run by Sevince Bayrak and Arda Inceoglu. The studio's subject for this semester is
MEF University students At the Schillerpark, Berlin. This excursion to Berlin took place from 16–20 January 2016 – for the second year undergraduate architectural studio, which is run by Sevince Bayrak and Arda Inceoglu. The studio's subject for this semester is "Dwelling in Berlin" and the students will design housing units with different scenarios in Berlin.
Sevince Bayrak. Architect and assistant professor at the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture of MEF University
Sevince Bayrak Architect and assistant professor at the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture of MEF University

The Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture at MEF University, is a new and ambitious school which aims to create a learning environment that emphasizes imagination, critical thinking and technical innovation as well as social and environmental ethical responsibility. First-year architecture students have realized an awarded design-build project of a bridge for a neighboring primary school.

More info on the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture.

SO? is an Istanbul based architecture office, founded by Oral Göktaş and Sevince Bayrak in 2007. Recent works include YAP 2013 project in Istanbul Modern, Unexpected Hill in Royal Academy of Arts in London, and Lost Barrier in MAXXI, Rome.

Von Gastautor veröffentlicht am .