Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Feature: Home from home

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.

Previously, the concrete in the buildings has been ground down for use in road building. Now, architect Hervé Biele has set up a practice, Conclus, and is specialising in recycled homes.

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.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.