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Raumlabor Berlin

Raumlabor Berlin is a German collective practicing what they call “research-based design.” Reacting to twentieth century utopianisms that tried, but did not succeed, to bring about better living conditions for everyone, Raumlabor works at the intersection of city planning, architecture art and urban intervention. They are attracted to difficult urban locations, places that are abandoned or in transition. They feel that such spaces offer untapped potential and fertile ground for experimentation to try to find new perspectives of approach.

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.

One of the spaces where they are currently putting these ideas into practice is the Floating University Berlin, built into the rainwater retention basin of the former Tempelhof Airport. On this abandoned space, a habitat of muddy water with a rich variety of plants, birds, amphibians and insects has emerged. 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 every day 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 governed and run by the University Association. It is a new experimental way to expand and further root initiative within the civic society and its multifaceted opportunities.

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.