Urban Forest is a housing concept for a group to use space efficiently by dividing it into multi-functional zones rather than prescribed rooms. It is designed by Atelier Bow Wow in collaboration with Kooperatives Labor Studierender (Kolabs) for HKW‘s recent Wohnungsfrage (Questions on Living) lecture series.
Atelier Bow Wow was inspired by Italo Calvino’s Il Barone Rampante (The Baron in the Trees, 1957) – ‘A story about a boy who escapes… his rich family and lives within the canopy of the trees for the rest of his life. In his arboreal surroundings, the boy is able to move from one tree to another without concern for land ownership… His free spirit appropriates the forest and transforms it in an urban environment. “Urban Forest” is the place for today’s “Barone Rampante” in a city like Berlin.’
– from ‘Kooperatives Labor Studierender + Atelier Bow-Wow: Urban Forest’ available here.
Kolabs is a collective of young students looking to live as a community. The concept is organised into functional spaces such as a bathroom and kitchen; The rest of the space is divided into zones rather than specific rooms. The zones are multi-functional and are defined by whether they cater for private or for community/public use, or for something in between.
At the centre of the structure is zone that includes a community table. This area is open to the public.
The ‘capsule’ pictured above is an example of the most privately zoned space.
Inside, a bed that can easily be moved to transform the space.
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow Wow challenged the mindset of the audience and the Kolabs group. He put forward that culturally, they want more space than the Japanese. He questioned whether reducing the cost of living was simply about shifting the cultural mindset. He himself had previously lived in a 39 sqm apartment with his partner.
He posited that to live in a limited space in a delightful way required skills. And that the design can follow the behaviour and skills of the group.
The architect and the Kolabs group came to the 1:1 model exhibited at HKW and together they ‘programmed’ the space with props and symbols such as the bed and the table – a library to symbolise learning, a workshop for making, an open clothes rack to symbolise sharing and the central space to interact with the public, it has just a table leaving it open for the community to decide how to use it at the time.
From the outside of the structure the community table can be seen, inviting the public inside.
The full lecture can be viewed here.