Finn Wilkie

The Heteroglossic City: A polemic against the managerial urban paradigm of critical reconstruction in Berlin
Mackintosh School of Architecture

Tutor: Robert Mantho


Bauforum proposes an ‘open source urbanism’ as an alternative to the conventional approach to urban development  in Berlin.
Bauforum proposes an ‘open source urbanism’ as an alternative to the conventional approach to urban development in Berlin.

During a six month stint working in Berlin, Finn Wilkie saw for himself the highly restrictive planning system and the increasingly homogenized urban landscape it has produced. After a spell in Stockholm where the planning system seemed more open to change, he decided to use his thesis to explore an alternative to the totalising ideology of Berlin’s post-unification planning system of Critical Reconstruction.

‘It’s unfortunate that in Berlin architects are limited with regard to the morphological potential of their work,’ he says. ‘Critical Reconstruction, a static precept, neglects the true nature of the city as a dynamic entity.'

Instead, he proposes The Heteroglossic City, which explores the historical background to the highly-controlled planning system in Berlin before setting out a new strategy for architectural intervention. This is illustrated through the Bauforum, conceived as a platform to explore a more dialogue-focused approach to each particular planning context.

Bauforum is an ensemble of parts that occupy the footprint of a typical perimeter block. Rather than adhering to a general role, the Bauforum embraces the fragmented nature of its immediate context.

‘The Bauforum does not achieve richness through idiosyncratic expression,’ he says. ‘Instead, its quiet architecture establishes itself through a strong connection to its urban, topographic and cultural context, thus becoming embedded in an existing fabric of meaning.’

Bauforum accommodates the programme necessary for a heightened strategic and self-organised attitude to urban development in Berlin. It comprises a public facility in the taller building with a gallery, library and free studio space intended to house autonomous urban development initiatives. A Neue Kongresshalle will enable debates, presentations and exhibitions.

The result, hopes Wilkie, is an adaptive metropolis of ‘open source urbanism’ driven by participation and democracy rather than by economics and bureaucracy.

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