Faced with a glut of ugly tower blocks on estates that are rapidly becoming deserted, the Germans, with their usual efficiency and engineering zeal, are unfazed and are simply recycling the flats and making them into desirable housing stock.
Housing estates with blocks of flats known as plattenbauen, or ‘slab houses’ – a common sight in east Germany – are the fodder for this project, taking a design low point of Germany’s history and giving it a sustainable future.
Although many were modernised and are still occupied, it is reported that the government plans to demolish 350,000 homes in the next five years as there is an estimated 1.3 million currently standing empty.
Taking panels from the old high-rise buildings, Biele’s constructions are said to cost owners 30% less than a conventional house and take just seven days to put up the basic structure. The panels are strong enough so that no extra structure is needed and, for the first built project in Mehrow, outside Berlin, the materials came free as the flats were being dismantled anyway.