Dwelling in Frankfurt


The lack of affordable housing in german cities and other prospering areas in the world is getting worse and worse. Using this as a background, the task of the design was to create affordable and flexible but still high quality housing/dwelling in the city of Frankfurt. The aim was to keep the provided space per person under 25 m2 or less in order to make affordable housing in such a boom-region possible.

The area, located in Niederradsouth of the river Main is characterised by large green areas and dwelling typologies from the 1950s. Regarded from an urban perspective, the district is very homogeneous in terms of usage, building typologies and residents.

Following that “urban idea”, our design consists of a slim, north-south orientated building, that articulates a clear edge to the street south of the site.

The design is based on a collective dwelling-concept. Significant was the recognition that every working community has to provide enough individual space for every resident.

Keeping these things in mind, we structured the floor-plan into four layers.

Starting in the south, the first layer is a meandering access balcony, which mainly organizes horizontal circulation, but provides also shared outside-space for each flat.

The second layer consists out of the two-storey high, communal dwelling hall.

In the following function-layerall kitchens, bathrooms, storage space and other facilities are located. The last layer of the floor-plan forms the individual bedrooms. All individual rooms are equal in size and neutral in terms of use, which makes different types of living in the maisonette- flats possible. By different combinations of these functional-flexiblerooms, there can be flats for one to five or more persons.

The eye-catching round form of the staircase in the south and two elevators ensure the vertical circulation. Behind this access-core every floor has a collective laundry room.

The construction consists of a two-storey concrete strut and joist system. All walls, except the access-core, are not load bearing components, which makes the building constructive- flexible.

The ground floor provides a public café for the whole area, a multifunctional room for the house-community and bike storage with a small repair shop. The roof-terrace is semi-private for all residents.

The facades are dominated by the horizontal railing of the access balcony. The whole building is enclosed by a red grid, which structures the façade and is part of the safety barriers and of the sun shading. Over the roof-terrace the grid forms a pergola.


Who influences you graphically?

We’ve been influenced by a lot of contemporary architecture offices and blogs like KooZA/rch, BeL, Fala Atelier, KGDVS or Dogma. One of the main influences is definitely the chair for Architecture and Construction of Adam Caruso at ETH Zürich.

What defined the language of representation of the project? What is the relationship between the line drawings and the perspective model views?

The contrast between the line drawings and the colourful images refer to the contrast of the strict two-storey concrete strut and joist system and the diverse ways it can be used.

In terms of the graphical language, we think that the eye-catching colourful model photos and the dignified line drawings match very well.

How did you elaborate on the notion of colour as intended by May?

Since the design course used Ernst May and the “Neues Frankfurt” as a background in terms of affordable housing, we took a closer look at the colours he used and why he used them. May used strong colours for certain elements of a building, for example windows, rainwater pipes or handrails to structure facades and other parts of his buildings.

We tried to adapt some of these colours for certain things in our design to make a reference to the affordable building program of the “Neues Frankfurt” from the 1920s.

What defined the use of it within certain images and the absence in others?

All colours, especially concerning the interior design, are a proposal. Since one of the main concept points is flexibility we wanted to make it clear, that other colour combinations are possible, too.

Who defined the absences of “inhabitants” within the views?

People or “inhabitants” are often used in views to show the scale of the building or to cover up things. Since our topic is housing we used furniture to give the beholder a sense of scale and make them lively, so we think people do not fit into that kind of perspectives and are not absolutely necessary.


Nathalia Hélène Nehm from Athens, Greece born in 1990, currently pursuing a architecture master’s degree at Technical University of Darmstadt

Ulrich Müller born in 1992, currently pursuing a architecture master’s degree at Technical University of Darmstadt