Reef format: the Olympic Village in Wustermark

Olympic Village

Alberto has recently presented a project for the Reef in Brussels - with some tips for space use, models of financial participation, management and so on. It's a very useful first attempt to tinker with the idea - even if this specific project doesn't materialize, it shows to me how much easier it is to imagine possibilities when we know what type of space and environment we have at hand.

I wanted to mention a place I came across lately, which seems intriguing and suitable for many reasons: well located - close to Berlin, reachable by metro; huge and abandoned for decades, with a complicated history. It's a former Olympic Village, build for the games in 1936. It became infamous because of its Nazi roots, and basically unused since the sporting event. 

The village has 138 one-storey houses that hosted the athletes and dozens of other buildings. And the city of Wustermark lately started considering renovation of the space, planning for it to become a residential area. Depending on the agreements, the state of the buildings (they are protected as historical monuments), and the amount of space the city could offer there for an experimental residential project, this could turn out to be a fabulous place to settle. Not too far from "civilization", yet a bit off the road, which has a lot of advantages for digital nomads and highly mobile flatmates. Moreover, residential spaces with access to land give huge opportunities  - a community could in full steam explore the ideas we've been juggling here for years. We could build a unique space for care workers, hackers, nomads, refugees and whoever else, with urban gardens/aquaponics on a big scale, and maybe even with older people to see how a "hacker-run elderly home" could actually look like. And propose a fair mix of commercial and non-commercial purposes (a small hotel generating revenue that would feed back to the community for example, or health care services for everyone funded by donations and services to wealthier clients). I also dream of a solar or wind-powered grid which could feed back to the community and sell some surpluses when possible. 

What do you think? Do you know of any other spaces, like the villages Spain was selling for pennies some time ago, or villas in the south of Italy? Or a building in your town that might be a potential location for us? The more ideas, the more chances we have of landing somewhere very soon. 

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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Comments

Good one

Alberto's picture

Interesting, @Natalia Skoczylas . Everything hinges on the plans made by the local authorities:

  • If they plan to sell the whole Olympic Village in one large transaction, that makes the place unviable. Some large real estate developer will buy it and build a satellite district for middle class people.
  • If they are happy to sell individual buildings to settlers, that becomes interesting, because "pioneers" could move in and, if the settlement is successful, there would be a lot of space for others to join and attach themselves to the first movers. 

Do you have information about this?

Of course, even in the event of a gradual settlement scenario, many issues remain. For example, are the buildings renewable or do they need to be scrapped and rebuilt from the ground up? From your picture things look pretty grim. 

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Protected buildings

Alex Levene's picture

From Natalia's discription it sounds like the buildings are protected as historical monuments, this means they cant be destroyed and severely limits the amount of work you can do to the property. This is probably what has put off developers and speculators so far.

Whoever took on any of these properties would have to work within the confines of the preexisting structures. But, as Natalia points out, there is a lot of space around the existing buildings that (presumably) isn't protected. Meaning if you can find a way of making the exisisting structures work as accommodation/business spaces then there is space to create and build outside of those structures.

Certainly an interesting idea and proposal, if a little advanced for us a this exact moment in time. Maybe there is a collaboration with ROC21 (http://www.roc21.net/) that might also create some interesting opportunities

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