Keywords Change this

IBA 1987, Social Housing

Project timeline

1980 – 1984



Location Change this

Kohlfurterstraße, Admiralstraße, Fraenkelufer, Erkelenzdamm, Wassertorplatz
10999 Berlin

Architect Change this


Project participants:
Contractor: GSW, Bezirksamt Kreuzberg und private Bauherren (Berlin)
Architects and planning partners: GKK (school construction), Architektengruppe Wassertorplatz, Peter Stürzebecher, Kjell Nylund, Christof Puttfarken, Kühnel, Waltraud von Demandowsky-Parow, Betroffenenvertretung SKS Horst Schattner etc.


Article last edited by Zahara on
May 27th, 2020

IBA Block 70 Change this

Corner house on Fraenkelufer / Admiralstraße, 1989

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Description Change this

The large Block 70 in Kreuzberg between Fraenkelufer and Kohlfurterstraße was a part of the IBA Berlin 1987. The residential development is by German architectsHinrich Baller and Inken Baller and their contribution to the IBA consists of three vacant lots and one fire wall; two vacant lots were closed by the “gatehouses” (No. 38 and No. 44, 10 residential units each) and one by the corner house (No. 28, 19 residential units). The fire wall development (No. 38 A / B / C, 48 residential units) was built on the back of the listed Elisabethhof. In addition, around 200 apartments on Erkelenzdamm and on the Fraenkelufer were modernized. This is visible from the outside thanks to the new balconies. The overall system also includes the garden architecture, courtyard between the gatehouses and the fire wall. The new buildings were financed as social housing in the first funding channel. The total cost was DM 30.1 million. The client was the GSW (non-profit settlement and housing association).

History of Block 70

The Second World War had damaged relatively few buildings in this block. Although the only buildings lost in the war were Fraenkelufer No. 38, 44 and corner house No. 28, the overall infrastructure of the block was in state of decay. The long and intensive overcrowding of the district and its neglect at the same time were the reason for this poor condition despite the low war damage. In 1963 the area was declared a redevelopment area. The renovation program SKS (redevelopment area Kreuzberg Süd) provided for a complete demolition of the historical buildings- apart from the synagogue, a small part of the commercial Elisabeth courtyard and the construction of residential parks, as well as the construction of the east tangent, which runs across block 70 should lead to the filled up watergate and the drained Luisenstadt Canal.

The block experienced the most drastic changes from the demolition of the courtyards from 1975 onwards. The urban redevelopment companies and investors bought up the old buildings and displaced the residents by renting them out; those who could afford it moved away, elderly residents, those affected by poverty and also the guest workers remained in the apartments as tolerated intermediate users. The remaining houses had been left empty since approx. 1974. In 1973 the residential park "Böcklerpark" on the Landwehr Canal was already built and blocks 70 and 89 were to give way to the new building of a school center as well as the east tangent and an access road through block 89.

Up until 1979, the approved area renovation was pushed ahead. Since the end of the 1970s, however, more and more young people have settled in Kreuzberg, who in turn have created new cultural networks as so-called “squatters”, but also brought new attention to Kreuzberg through resistance.

In September 1979, it was decided with the printed matter No. 81 in the district assembly to preserve the still standing houses on Erkelenzdamm and Fraenkelufer, to create a canal bank path and to have usage concepts developed for the interior of the block. Together with the building exhibition, an open procedure with numerous town meetings began in October to develop a new urban development concept for Block 70 (and Block 89 next door). At the end of the year, four experts (Hahn, Urbanke-Medebach-Rechleit, Siza, Baller) were asked by the Kreuzberg district and the IBA to submit “suggestions for city repairs”. In February 1980, these four reports were presented as part of a first interim report. The basis for further processing was the Ballers' report. The building exhibition of September 1979 on the Fraenkelufer, addressed questions that seemed so utopian that the experts consulted from outside had doubts about the seriousness of the task at all.


The concept of the Ballers was to close Block 70 with new buildings, which, together with the listed industrial yard Elisabeth-Hof and the newly created school yard, should be based on the old “Kreuzberg mixture”. In addition to the new buildings, the refurbishment of existing old buildings was also planned. Since the new building designs would tower over the existing buildings by a full attic, the expansion of the roof space of the old buildings was also planned but postponed due to technical and procedural reasons.

The exterior design is one of the most important aspects and in addition to the waterfront also includes the design of a public park. The elongated park was to be built along the former Luisenstadt Canal, which would be introduced via a row of chestnut trees at the Kottbusser Bridge. A large promenade roundabout at Wassertorplatz (designed) was to shield the block from Skalitzer Straße. Originally, an elevation under the elevated railway was supposed to lead to the opposite side of Skalitzer Straße, but this plan was not carried out.

In addition, a semi-public space was to be created in the courtyard, which had already been demolished, and was to stand out due to its special design. As a new element, the courtyard had the opportunity to bind the old and new buildings together. In a letter from the construction file of the archive of Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain dated dated October 21, 1981, the Baller couple wrote about garden planning: “Over a pond, several garden levels, which would be accessible from the main network, water near playgrounds and rest areas, gardens near the fire wall development. Separations between the different usage zones are provided by means of terrain modeling, groups of trees or hedge-like plants, i.e. no walls, fences etc. and also no driveways with curbs. ” The courtyard also became a participatory project with the future residents.


The new building planning on the Fraenkelufer include the gate houses, corner house, fire wall development, garden design and old building renovations. The new buildings were completed in 1984, followed by the cautious modernisation and self-help projects. The existing school was subsequently expanded, a daycare centre was built and the road area on Admiralstrasse and Fraenkelufer was planted and revitalised.

Gate House

The vacant lots were closed by the gatehouses on Fraenkelufer No. 38 and 44. They catch your eye through the air floors with the transverse supports, the concave curved balconies with their filigree railings and the pointed gables in the attic. The gatehouses built on the bank take up the contours and street alignments of the neighboring buildings, but at the same time they stand out due to the minimal storey, the large glass surfaces, the curved shapes and their coloring, as well as the larger number of storeys. By inserting these buildings, the new should be linked to the old. The airborne concrete pilots are not only aesthetic but structural.

The purely residential buildings each have five full storeys on the street side and accommodate 10 residential units each, of which 2 apartments are designed as maisonettes on the courtyard side. On the street side, all apartments have a large living room with a balcony. They also have a kitchen, bathroom, guest toilet and 1-2 bedrooms. Inside, the non-right-angled wall positions are striking, sometimes even with curves: the architects are demanding a complex appropriation behavior of the residents, which at the same time should help ensure that no two apartments are alike, even if the floor plans are completely symmetrical. In addition, the resulting visual relationships are intended to create new living experiences and spatial sensations.

The newly added balconies on the street side create a connection to the adjoining existing buildings. However, these are not designed in a curved, restrained horizontal manner - as in the new buildings - but in an adaptation to the existing substance. Only the type of the railings - forged and in the same tones in color - shows a subtle togetherness. There are exits on the courtyard side, which can and should serve as a possible green framework. The renovation of the existing buildings was carried out with care, i.e. the windows and doors were upgraded and the sanitary facilities were brought up to the standards of the time.

Corner House

The corner house on Admiralstrasse places an accent at the top of the block and marks the entrance to the new “residential courtyard”. A total of 19 residential units are located here, which are stacked in a complex manner over seven floors. The floor plans are developed over the corner plot that connects both Admiralsstrasse and the Fraenkelufer. Each floor is individually designed, the apartments here are more spacious than in the gatehouses: there are also three-room and four-room apartments in the corner building.

Fire Wall House

The fire wall development was built along the 110-long back of the Elisabeth courtyard and houses a total of 48 apartments. Up to and including the 3rd full floor, there are direct garden connections via private podium. Two upper floors are housed in the attic, some of which are assigned roof terraces. The elements of a curved balcony, pointed-arched gables and dormers are also repeated in the fire wall development.

Courtyard design

In addition, the large inner courtyard, which was designed with garden architecture in mind, belongs to the overall complex.

The continuous courtyard is modeled around a pond, play and rest areas as well as the private gardens that are assigned to the apartments in the fire wall development. There are no property partitions such as walls or fences between the different usage zones, these are created solely by hedge planting and terrain modeling.

With its expressive new architecture combined with innovative, socially-focused modernisation of old buildings under a new management body, the entire project remains one of the most attractive and impactful IBA projects.



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