LIFE ABOVE THE AUTOBAHN
For many architects, there is a fascination with the ideas of building above already built infrastructure in a city. The New York Highline project has brought about many new conversations of how to integrate new building works into existing systems. While studying at the Architectural Association in London, I worked on a project that was to integrate housing above the streets of London (see here). Little did I know that in the suburbs of Berlin, stands a housing project from many years ago that was an investigation of mixing housing with transportation infrastructure.
Autobahnüberbauung Schlangenbader Strasse is a housing project completed in 1981 and designed by architect Georg Heinrichs. In the early 1970’s, the Berlin wall had already created a limited means of expansion of the city of West Berlin. The city decided to experiment with ideas that had never previously been built and invested into creating a housing scheme over the newly opened A100 Autobahn. The scheme would create many new apartments for varying classes of citizens while minimally occupying undeveloped land.
The project was built using two structural systems. One system to hold the autobahn, and the other for the apartments themselves. This disconnection, helps eliminate unwanted vibrations or sounds intruding into the living units. There is a one meter wide buffer space between the tunnel structure and the apartment structure to help eliminate any sound. Residents have commented that they have no feeling while inside or out on the balconies that they are living above a very active freeway. In the image below, you can see the tunnel of the autobahn between the two building structures as a cross road goes underneath.
At 600 meters long and 46 meters high, the project itself is also one of the largest single residential complexes in all of Europe. It contains 1064 total apartments including single studio, multi-room and senior citizen living accommodations. Approximately 50% of the apartments have balconies and a small terrace creating a stepped sectional effect.
The interiors of the apartments are made with movable walls to create spaces that can be adjustable as to the wishes of the occupant.
Next to the building is a park with shops running throughout the majority of the length.
Video drive through tunnel: