Berlin January 2015
In the end of December 2015, I found a remarkable housing project in Berlin, which is, actually using ‘Koperasi’ or cooperatoves approach. This Marxist economy actually has a strong linkages with the conservatives Indonesia economy idea that founded by Mohammad Hatta. Obviously, housing is extremely important as well as a basic need for urban dwellers. Thus government, private, and citizen always spend a lot of time dealing with standard, co-housing, and affordable housing projects to meet as much as possible people demand. An NGO called Institute for Creative Sustainability (ICS) devoted their activity to cooperative housing in order to provide affordable housing with a self-help approach in Spreefeld. Dr. La Fond, the architect that led this cooperatives project explained that self-help approach means people ‘Do It by Yourself/ Do It Together’ (DIY/DIT) in order to find their solution among their community. He and his organization are concern with tackling affordability issue over time. Precisely, they try to make the middle class not only able to buy or rent apartment, but also able to maintain and renovate it. Therefore, they established prior projects, i.e., online wohnportal Berlin, Culture Sustainability Town, Cohousing Culture, and urban Lab Berlin. They founded a project called Bau-wohn Genossenschaft Spreefeld (The Cooperative Housing in Spreefeld), which aims to help people who live in the site and surrounding neighborhood to define their housing needs. In the beginning, they organized self-help participation that involved a small group of local dwellers and three architect studios for two years. The decision process had taken a rigorous way considering the investment scheme, risk sharing, and also design. Afterward, the participants start to advertise their neighborhood, family, and friends to involve into discussion and become a part of it. As a result, they created the concept of sustainable settlements that are affordable for the middle class with ‘no gate, no fence, and no cars’. They bought the site from the federal government through proposing their project concept a couple years ago. It was financed using people’s money that covered 30% of the cost and private sectors through long-term loan scheme. Precisely, a person who joined this project is obligated to buy shares depending on what size their ordered apartment is. The collective fund considers each ownership scheme – whether they will be a renter or will be an owner. In these case, the buyers which is also the consolidated communities act as the same as the shareholders of the cooperatives. They share the risk among each other, and design the building in participatory approach. The architect team applied the concept of sustainable architecture in designing and building. In addition, the apartment building will be completed with the cultural center on the ground level, which can be used for exhibition, children daycare, or student events.
ISC also commits to doing self-help activity in Berlin shantytown-Teepee Land, which is close to their project site. Teepee Land dwellers built their informal settlements as tent structures on public land around Spreefeld, which partially belongs to a private investor. They are trapped in very precarious way since the private owner could initiate eviction at anytime. Thus, some activists are helping them to redevelop the areas through event, so hopefully they can raise people’s support about Teepee Land existence. Dr. La Fond concluded that affordability is a relative question where people has many options about housing needs depending mostly on their basic income. On the other hand, there are also certain people who would never be able to buy a house, for example homeless. Therefore, urban managers cannot act to wipe out informality, squatting, or any other.special housing case in order to find a better solution.
Achmad Faris Saffan Sunarya