Wohnen ohne Auto (literally “Living without a car”) is a co-housing project, developed in a process of participatory design with a community of future residents. The project features a series of strategies which aim is to minimize the superfluous, to estabilish a collective attitude towards sharing and to encourage in general an environmentally conscious behaviour.
The building is located in the former airport area of Munich-Riem and is part of the fourth and last construction phase of its reconversion. Its core point lies in the voluntary renouncement of car ownership by all the inhabitants, which is reflected in a sustainable planning approach.
Together with three other new constructions, the project forms a rectangular city block around an inner courtyard, a semi-private space. The façades on the perimeter of the complex are kept plain and regular to aid the readability of the four new buildings as parts of a whole. On the inside of the block however, skewed bow-windows fragment the façade catching the southern light and lending longer views, even to the centrally placed flats. The resulting balconies are in this way both South-oriented and provided with privacy.
The building is then rooted into its context by an axis leading from the entrance of the city block, across the courtyard, through the glass doors and the stairwell and on into a new park on the east side.
The overall design is developed with great attention to life quality, atmospheric materials and lighting conditions, besides sustainability, low mantainance and social inclusion principles.
Through the main focus on spatial optimization and reduction of private areas in favour of shared spaces, Wohnen one Auto inverts the trend of increasing floorspace, buildng costs and energy consumed per person. The common areas are no longer limited to the distributive spaces, but they are extended to storages, a hobby room, a workshop, a large rooftop terrace and even a small guest apartment. Common spaces do not only allow for a reduction of the resources needed but also foster social interaction through the creation of shared experiences.
Within the flats, narrowing down to the very minimum some functional rooms, allows to wider up the living areas. It is in the contrast between the spaces’ size that the perception of inhabiting very small flats is completely nullified.
The possibility the owners have to directly influence the design choices, not only in their private apartments, but in the whole building, enables them to identify themselves entirely with their new home and create a solid community spirit. This collective awareness is mirrored also in some small craft interventions that the residents carried out themselves, both in their private houses and in the communal areas.
Wohnen ohne Auto is an example of the key role of architectural design in a general rethinking of our attitude to consumption of resources, collective responsibility and social conscience.