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“150 New Businesses in 2 Years”

CASE STUDY: Neukölln, Berlin, Germany

An interview with Stefanie Raab architect and owner of Coopolis. In this case study Raab will tell you something about Neukölln, a district of West Berlin. West Berlin was during the Cold War desolated, but came attractive for residents when the government offered men the opportunity to move there if they wanted to avoid enlisting in the army. But when the wall fell the number of inhabitants didn’t grow and the neighborhood was filled with empty space. Raab lives in the northern part of Neukölln and saw the potential of the empty ground floor shops. But a challenge was to convince local entrepreneurs to invest in the poor neighborhood. By explaining it’s solutions and secrets the reader gets insight in the improvement of Neukölln through a course of time.

“In our shop vacancy projects, we are committed to new forms of cooperation between owners and space seekers to develop the site as needed for a stabile and sustainable future.”

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p287b 89_Nogatstr_30_Lesecafe2009_HQ Neukoelln Berlin Germany Stefanie Raab

“Lese Cafe” in the Nogatstraße 30, Neukölln, Berlin by Stefanie Raab (2009)
p287c 89_Siegfriedstr_Kaffeebar2012_HQ Neukoelln Berlin Germany Stefanie Raab
“Kaffeebar” in the Siegfriedstraße, Neukölln, Berlin by Stefanie Raab (2012)
Cover image: “Weinladen & Weinseminare” in the  Jonasstraße, Neukölln, Berlin by Stefanie Raab (2012)
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“The Festival of Empty Shops in Budapest”

An article written by Levente Polyák, urban planner and researcher in Budapest and founding member of KÉK. KÉK is the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre (an NGO focusing on urbanism, architecture and design). KÉK began in 2005, when a group of architects, urbanists, journalists and artists, decided to launch a space for discussing architecture and the city. The group fortuitously gained access to a former warehouse in the backyard of a museum. The warehouse, in the vicinity of Budapest’s relatively central but reasonably infamous Keleti railway station, was in bad shape. Unused for decades and tagged with Soviet graffiti, it needed significant improvements to accommodate events and the public.

“Addressing the possibilities of larger buildings, as well as smaller, distributed spaces, the cautious drafting of rental contracts and the careful organization of renovation and maintenance activities turned out to be key elements in the sustainability of the accommodated initiatives.”

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p273a 74-1_Nyitva Fesztivál Budapest Hungary - CREDIT Daniel Dorko

The Festival of Open Shops, Budapest Hungary ©Daniel Dorko
Cover image: Coorperative planning workshop at Nyugati Ground ©István Keresztes
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“Uncovering Hidden Treasures”

An article written by Gerard Peet, Frank Belderbos & Joep Klabbers, lecturer, project manager and architect and all close connected with the Nieuwe Binnenweg. In this article they tell the reader about one of the most authentic shopping streets of Rotterdam West, the Nieuwe Binnenweg. The street is already a while under reconstruction. Over the last few decades the street suffered from economic decline and degradation. With a vacancy rate higher than other streets and a rather low variety in shops, the Nieuwe Binnenweg was in need for an upgrade.

“Although the situation was challenging, close observation of the storefronts demonstrated that not all had been lost; over the years, every new shop owner added a new layer to the storefront, avoiding the hassle of deconstructing the old one. (…) These hidden treasures only had to be unveiled to restore the facades to their original quality.”

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p221b 61-2_Nieuwe_Binneweg_Mei2013_70 Rotterdam NL - CREDIT FFH Frank Hanswijk

Both images: Nieuwe Binnenweg, mei 2013 ©FFH Frank Hanswijk
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“Mixed-Use Makes Money in Office Parks”

An article written by Jeroen Jansen and Eri Mitsostergiou, both working for Savills. They explain that in 2010 their research team examined all four major office areas in the Netherlands. The results showed that the combined vacancy in mixed-use areas is considerably lower than in single-use office locations. They further analysed the submarkets and buildings in Amsterdam with the highest vacancy and identified four factors that relate most to vacancy rate. While distance to a major train station, distance to the city centre, and the perceived safety of the office areas were important, mixed-use turned out to be the number one deciding factor. Creating a lively public space by adding retail, restaurants, bars and other functions to the plinths of office buildings does seem to pay off.

“While combining different uses within an area does not pose challenges, per se, for developers and investors, bringing different functions together within one building does add elements of complexity and risk. Developers and investors perceive that mixing uses makes their job more difficult and leads to a decline in their investment.”

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A sunny summer lunchtime in Granary Square, King's Cross

Granary Square with the University of Arts in the historic building London UK © Kings Cross Central General Partner Limited via kingscross.co.uk
Cover picture: Arial picture of the development site London UK © Kings Cross Central General Partner Limited via kingscross.co.uk
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“Keeping the Sleeping Beauty Awake”

A conversation with Robin von Weiler, a independent real estate investor. Von Weiler had has played an important and well-appreciated role in transforming a declining shopping street in Rotterdam into one of the hotspots in the city. The Meent now has the lowest vacancy rate in the city centre of Rotterdam. The effects of the street’s popularity have impacted surrounding areas. More high-quality shops have come, and the area is sought-after for housing, restaurants and public events. With the newly-opened Markthal and the revitalisation of the central canals, this part of Rotterdam attracts international attention.

 

“You have to force yourself to look at the street with fresh eyes. All the time. Other peoples’ opinions help, so always listen to what people think of the street.”

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p193 52-2_De Meent Rotterdam - Robin von Weiler

De Meen by Robin von Weiler
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“Japan: The Machiya Concept”

For this article Birgit Jürgenhake tells the story of Machiya’s. They are wooden townhouses, with different variations built throughout Japan. Ma means ‘space’ or ‘between’, chi means ‘road’ and ya means ‘shop’. So in other words: a space along the road with a shop. A machiya is usually a dwelling with a shop situated towards the street. The machiya first appeared in the 11th and 12th centuries when merchants in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, used tables to display their products in front of their house. Eventually the shop was built into the living space with patio gardens bringing light and nature into the relatively small and long house. Although some machiya houses are protected as Japanese heritage, many are disappearing.

“Today machiya are part of the old city centres and streetscapes are filled with them, creating a beautiful and lively urban area, with modern high-rise towering next to them.”

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p161 46-1_Machiya Japan Nozomi Birgit Jurgenhake

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“In the Meanwhile”

An article from our book by Emily Berwyn, director of London-based company Meanwhile Space. In 2009, the recession was beginning to hit hard in the UK; businesses were going under, developments stalled, high streets were declining and unemployment was soaring. We noticed that vacant property and lapsed developments were a missed opportunity in the ‘meanwhile’, and it was almost impossible to access these spaces. The abundance of empty properties compound the decline of high streets (also called main streets), yet local people who need space to develop new business ideas and innovative uses for high-street spaces are excluded by the archaic property industry. It seemed to us that there was a great opportunity here—if only we could get hold of the space!

“Our vision for an ideal ground floor is one where vacant space does not exist; that vacant periods are foreseen and ‘curated’ to give people a chance to test an idea, in a highly visible, low risk and affordable way, even for a few weeks or months. This requires a transparency of ownership, a flexible approach to bureaucracies, and a central point all the knowledge on an area so it is easily accessible.”

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p260a 71-4. Queens Parade, Willesden Green BEFORE London UK - CREDIT Mike Massaro

BEFORE: Queens Parade, Willesden Green London UK ©Mike Massaro
p260b 71-5. Queens Parade, Willesden Green AFTER London UK - CREDIT Mike Massaro
AFTEr: Queens Parade, Willesden Green London UK ©Mike Massaro
Cover picture: Cottrell House, Wembley London UK ©Dostofos