Beton. Himmel. Mensch.



07.2022 – 6. SEMESTER

Concrete. Sky. Mensch.

Over the course of the last few years – by now it’s hard to say when exactly – I learned that a bed in a homeless shelter in Hanover was more expensive than my room in a shared flat at the time. The fact that I pay less for a room than people who depend on emergency housing was hard to grasp. In most cases, the public social assistance system covers rental costs. And yet: the sample room pictured online was nice in itself, but the sparse furnishings and cold interior design gave it a certain prison flair that not even the cheapest student dormitories in Germany are able to achieve. Why are such anonymous and, yes, expensive rooms offered to those who would benefit most from comfortable, affordable living space?

Erika Heine believes that most projects in Hanover that deal with homelessness “miss the point and miss the people”. As architects and urban planners, we can work to change this. Through user-friendly spatial concepts whose programmatical interstices make it possible to overcome social murder. Through mixed housing models that aim for mutual integration instead of further marginalising people. By involving people without shelter in processes of planning, building, discussing, working – everyday life. No easy tasks; missing the desired result is certainly, more often than not, a harsh reality. But hopefully not simply because hardly anyone in our professional field seriously confront themselves with homelessness.

The aim of this work was not to produce a polished-off final result – although of course I hoped for it – because my personal confrontation with homelessness was the main target. The next pages document a process that is not yet complete. I have tried my best to avoid normative statements; as there is no global solution to homelessness, partly because each person has his or her own subjective idea of what means to be “home”. But that’s exactly the point, in part. We are already planning loads of conventional housing anyway.

Many thanks to Prof. Rieniets, Prof. Buchert, Prof. Schröder, Isabel Eggers del Campo and special thanks to Ms. Heine, who spent a serious amount of time to share her valuable knowledge and experience with me.