Living Deluxe

The modern metropolis of Berlin developed from a series of small villages connected by ‘church paths’ to the city, however diffuse it is today. Berlin was never characterized by industries, nor by any other means of using ‘mass’ labor. Rather, it was an informal capital of European bourgeois life. The artificial environment, which has been central to the position of this city since the beginning of the nineteenth century, is still visible today. During that time, boulevards like the Kurfürstendam connected the inner city with the stunning countryside beyond, itself characterized by the presence of many lakes. However, simultaneously, these grand boulevards within Berlin where almost always used to show off. They were to see and be seen upon. And it was here that the urban villas of grandeur were built, and it was here that typologies developed that became characteristic of much of Europe, Russia, and New York City, both at that time and later. Various ways of living – living as program–started to become an anchor for the development of this stately northern German city.

Entertainment, art, and shopping did not exist in the nineteenth century as they do now. Today we build programmatic conditions to reinforce an urban way of life. Berlin is blanketed with a sort of suburban-villa-culture, which gives the city a unique selling point, considering that it is also a ‘bankrupt’ metropolis. Living should be seen as a device to trigger a new era in the development of the city, by adopting stances and statements such as; 'dreamlike condition', 'sterile luxury', 'destroy to amuse', and 'feast for the mind'. Studio Arets at the UdK will develop specific strategies for selected sites, asking participants to design contemporary ‘villas’ within the urban core, and at the edge, of Berlin; a momentously modern metropolitan area.

Wiel Arets, UdK, Berlin, 2007