Raumlabor are urban practitioners, working on extending the field of architecture into contemporary societal struggles through targeted ‘urban interventions’– projects that seek to disrupt previously retained notions about space. The process is experimental and iterative, always involving the community as design partners. Drawn to difficult urban locations, places that are often abandoned or in transition and offer the untapped potential for experimentation, they challenge the utopian-ism of the 20th century which tried but did not succeed in bringing about better living conditions for everyone.
By their own description, Raumlabor Berlin’s approach is ‘dynamic urbanism.’ They have combined research, community engagement and radical forms of practice to create new ways of making public space. Some of their recent works include Symbiosen, a “parasitic architecture” structure that used abandoned wood, textile and a shipping container to create a pavilion at the Fragile Festival held at Wuppertal in 2023. It served as a commentary on the purposefulness of discarded material and the possibilities of symbiotic coexistence between “space, matter and user”
In 2022 they published Making Futures, a book that explores the role of architecture in the 21st century and presents action-based research which views the field as “an agency, rather than a collection of objects”, showing the results of collective action in city-making. One of the spaces where they put these ideas into practice is the Floating University Berlin, built into the rainwater retention basin of the former Tempelhof Airport. In the summer of 2018, students and scientists from more than 20 international universities met with artists from all over the world, local experts, architects, musicians and dancers to examine everyday urban life and formulate proposals for its reorganization. Together they collaborated on building the campus – learning spaces, workshops, an auditorium, a laboratory tower for experimental water filtration systems, a kitchen, a bar and toilets – creating an open infrastructure with seasonal spaces for learning and working. After its inaugural year, the energy created around the Floating University remained and is now run as Floating e.V. – a self organized space and group, where practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds meet to collaborate, co-create and imaginatively work towards futures.