, it’s all over.


Am winding up this blog at the end of May, as have been in transit for a year and now moving back to London.

Am moving all the content to

New things will be posted at Betaville –

Thanks for reading, and to everyone who came along to all the things.


Der Hinterhof in Berlin – Brennpunkt des Berliner Städtebaus


Short notice, but I’ll be giving a short talk tomorrow with Prof. Harald Bodenschatz at the TU, as part of an event for the launch of the Berlin Urban Design book (see earlier post).

I’ll stick to the point, and they’ll be slides!  All details below:

Der Hinterhof in Berlin
Brennpunkt des Berliner Städtebaus

anlässlich des Erscheinens der zweiten, erweiterten Auflage von
* Städtebau in Berlin. Schreckbild und Vorbild für Europa
* Berlin Urban Design. A Brief History of a European City
Verlag DOM publishers

Zeit: 4. Juli 2013, 18 Uhr
Ort: orangelab, Ernst-Reuter-Platz 2

In der städtebaulichen Debatte fungierte der Hinterhof über Jahrzehnte als schlimmste Verkörperung unmenschlichen Wohnens, als finsterer steinerner Ort ohne jede Nutzungsqualität, als Hölle für aufwachsende Kinder, als Mahnmal der nicht erhaltenswerten, ja unbedingt zu beseitigenden Mietkasernenstadt. Heute ist der Hinterhof wieder rehabilitiert, als ruhiger, oft grüner Raum, dessen Struktur bei Neubauten sogar eine Wiederauferstehung feiert. Kein städtebauliches Element wurde in der jüngeren Städtebaugeschichte dermaßen verteufelt wie der Berliner Hinterhof, und kein städtebauliches Element hat ein solch atemberaubendes Comeback erlebt wie eben jener Hinterhof.

Begrüßung und Moderation
Prof. Dr. Cordelia Polinna, TU Berlin

Von der Hölle zur Idylle
Zur Karriere des Berliner Hinterhofes
Prof. Dr. Harald Bodenschatz, TU Berlin

Comment: An English Perspective on Berlin
Jim Hudson,, Co-Übersetzer der zweiten englischen Auflage

Das Berlinbuch: Start der Reihe „Grundlagen“
Natascha Meuser, Verlag DOM publishers

Eine Veranstaltung des FG Planungs- und Architektursoziologie der TU Berlin
in Kooperation mit dem Verlag DOM publishers

Tour of the Berlin 1987 IBA, Friday 31st May


So it’s about time I did another one of these – people often ask, and I never get round to it.

On Friday 31st May I’ll be running a tour of a selection of projects form the IBA (International BauAustellung) of the 1980s.

My blog has much detail on this, my favorite subject, so I won’t repeat it here – see this page for an intro

I’ve run the tour a few times before, and although I add and remove bits, it will be much the same as if you’ve been on it already!

Meeting details:

3pm at the corner of Kochstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse. We’ll begin with projects from the western, “Neubau” end of the IBA, followed by a short bus trip to the eastern, “Altbau” end. Will be around 3hrs, ending at a local Kreuzberg bar or cafe, near to Schoenleinstr and Kottbusser Toe U-bahn stations. A fair bit of walking involved!

Price: 15 euros.

Group size is limited, so please only say you’re coming if you’re REALLY coming by confirming direct to me at jimhudson40 (at) Saying ‘I’m coming’ on Facebook doesn’t count!

“SO 36 – Riots, Ruins & Regeneration” tour


I’ll be running a social history-come-architecture tour of the SO 36 district on Saturday 25th May, in association with Slow Travel Berlin.

Starts at 3pm, duration 2-3 hours (usually followed by beers and chat in a local bar) meeting on Spreewaldplatz near Cafe Marx, 15 € per person.
Please book through Slow Travel, or if not possible let me know by email and pay on the day: jimhudson40 (at)

A little about the tour:

Since its origins in the 19th century, the eastern half of Kreuzberg (still known by its long-defunct ‘SO 36′ postcode) has long been one of Berlin’s most vibrant districts. In the 1960s, the Berlin Wall left the area as a somewhat isolated part of West Berlin, but by the late 60s the district had become famous as a place where students, artists, anarchists and immigrants came in search of a life of low rents, freedom and non-conformity. Venues such as the SO 36 club, still very much alive, formed the centre of Berlin’s punk and new wave subcultures, frequented by the likes of Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

Surrounded by the Wall on three sides for half a century, some strange situations arose, with streets, communities and even a mainline station being divided between East and West.

SO 36 is still famous for its annual May day riots, although things have been calmer in recent years. But the large number of squatters, political groups and alternative communities who protested each year led to some radical experiments in living and housing, most interestingly the regeneration projects of the 1980s, which were in part an attempt by West Berlin to rescue the area from becoming a slum. The Berlin Wall fell before some of these projects were even complete, and ironically, these community-led projects paved the way for the full-scale gentrification now taking place.

The walking tour is a mix of urban history, architecture and anecdote giving an insight into the past, present and possible future of the this fascinating district.

Last minute reminder – Battle of Ideas, Wednesday night, 14th November


I’ve mentioned it in previous post(s), but don’t forget tomorrow night’s ‘Triumph of the City‘ debate, at which I’ll be a panellist.  I know, standards are slipping.

Hardt-Waltherr Hämer, 1922 – 2012


Sad news that Hardt-Waltherr Hämer, the father of ‘careful urban renewal’ (’behutsamen Stadterneuerung’) and director of the Altbau half of the IBA 1987, died on Thursday.

Hämer was a key plyer in the movement against the excesses of modernist planning of the 1960s and 70s, which in Berlin reached its nadir with the redevelopment of Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg.  He took the (at the time radical) view that cities could be revived by retaining the existing built fabric and working with local residents to improve their own homes and environment.   This stood firmly against the orthodoxy of the time – the scorched earth policy of urban renewal through large scale demolition and rebuilding, including major new road networks, which was of course much more profitable for investors and contractors than Hämer’s ’slow architecture’ approach.

His much publicised and successful project to put these ideas into practice at Chamissoplatz in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district led to his heading of the Altbau element of the International BauAustellung of the 1980s in West Berlin.  The legacy of his work here was later to be largely ignored during the redevelopment of Berlin following the fall of the Wall, with rabid gentrification, displacement of long-standing communities and the general blandifying of large parts of the city.

Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Wednesday 19th Sept, 7.30pm


So, finally getting things moving with our first archi film night, this coming Wednesday.  Free entry, imported British beers, cake and more.

As usual, at Hudson’s, Boppstrasse 1, nearest U-Bahn Schönleinstraße.

Although I’m planning some ‘pure architecture’ films, including Rem’s Houselife, and Berlin Babylon, they’ll be mixed with movies that ’swim in an architectural sea’. Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is one such: a film from the days before CGI (but all the better for it) – a kind of darkly comic take on Orwell’s 1984, sharing at least one film location (Battersea power station) with the ’straight’ version of 1984 that came out the previous year. Yet Brazil is by far the better of the two films.

Gilliam has a madly architectonic eye, with virtually every scene a reference or in-joke about a particular building or failed utopian plan. It’s also a distopia where nothing mechanical or electronic ever works properly, a state of affairs with which I have much sympathy (and possibly the only film whose villains including heating and plumbing engineers?).

Anyway, it’s a great cast and an endlessly inventive film, that should be enjoyable even if you’re not a nerd like me.

Architecture Book Club, 22nd August


A chance to read then discuss books about architecture and related subjects. Can be fact or fiction, specialist architectural theory best avoided!

Each month to have two books, which you’re encouraged to read beforehand, to make the discussion as interesting as possible.

J G Ballard – “Concrete Island” (a satirical novel about an architect who crashes his car and is trapped on an island formed between motorways)

Rem Koolhaas – “Delirious New York” (Koolhaas’ alternative urban history of the city – work of genius, or entertaining nonsense?).

Both available from Amazon and elsewhere.

Hosted at Hudson’s Cafe, at 19.30 on Wednesday 22nd August:

See also

Architecture Meetup, Wednesday 4th April


So the next architecture meetup will be on Wednesday 4th April from 7.30pm

At my place again: Hudson’s Cafe, Boppstrasse 1, 10967 (corner of Schönleinstraße, nearest U-Bahn Schönleinstraße)

And there’s a theme: ‘the Media Spree, Ostbahnhof, Stralau and Rummelsberg’.

My idea is that we put our heads together and organise ourselves a bike tour of the area, getting access to buildings. Where to have lunch obviously a critical element. Perhaps a constructive half hour or so, then more booze and the usual socializing.

A few possible ideas:

  • Tour of the ongoing reconstruction of Ostbahnhof
  • A look at the stupidly glossy Nhow hotel (I may have a new contact there shortly who can show us around)
  • Someone from the ‘Spreeufer für alle’ anti-Media Spree to talk en route?
  • Tour of RadialsystemV
  • A group lament on the loss of Bar 25, Kiki Blofeld etc and how horrible the O2 is.
  • Maybe go up to Kraftwerk Klinkenberg?

Look forward to seeing you.

A few things to do to start the year.


Architektur Galerie are still producing those handy selected listings, so in a lazy kind of a mood, thought I’d reproduce it here, in case you’re looking for some architecture-related things to do.

Happy New Year, by the way.