12 April 2012

Mapping Vacancy To Initiate Temporary Uses

leerstandsmelder.de is a website that maps vacant buildings in German cities. The project was initiated by students of architecture in Hamburg a more than a year ago when they mapped the vacant buildings of a derelict area in Hamburg, the Gängeviertel.  After a year the project was expanded throughout Germany and currently maps vacant buildings in Hamburg, Berlin, Bremen, Kaiserlauten and Frankfurt. Due to broad coverage in local media, Leerstandsmelder Berlin could accumulate more than 220 entries within the last two weeks. And the numbers are steadily growing.

Haus der Statistik (Image source)
On their homepage, the initiators plead for more transparency and enabling spaces (in the Sitauationist or Cedric Priceian sense) in the city as the motivation for setting up the vacancy index. They expect that with their service, more temporary uses and discussions about the buildings fate are kicked off.  The open-source platform, is a collectively generated pool offering also information beyond the mere location like information on ownership or how long the building has been vacant. In Berlin iconic buildings like the Eisfabrik at the banks of river Spree or the Haus der Statistik are listed as well as supermarkets, former administration buildings, hospitals, prisons, shopping malls and listening stations from the Cold War. Even the soon-to-become-vacant Airport Tegel, which faces an uncertain future, is listed on the map. 
The question remains, if the initiators good intention to spark the many vacant buildings with new energy and temporary uses works out or if the maps also become a valuable resource for investors to find affordable land and transform the vacant lots to luxury condominiums as of course many of them are in gentrifying areas.  
In any case the maps are a resource for urban explorers and feed well into recent discussions on Ruin Porn.
Teufelsberg listening station (Image from the archive)
Eisfabrik (Image source)
Eisfabrik (Image source)

Related post from the archive: The City As A Palimpsest

Title Image: the theatre ship at Urbanhafen (Image source)