Airport City

Tempelhof, Berlin

Fall-Spring 2016, Degree Project Thesis

In collaboration with Daniela Kolodesh

CommonPlace is an urban design with public and privately owned housing for migrants and citizens of Berlin. The project focuses on looking at the issue of mass migration and displacement in both the urban scale and the architectural scale. The program includes; public housing, privately owned housing, urban agriculture, public galleria, shops, markets, community workshop spaces, recreational sports facilities.


Site Plan, Ground Floor


CommonPlace proposes a new way of living; to build community and intertwine the lives of migrants and the citizens of Berlin. The conditions of war in Syria and Afghanistan beginning in 2012 led us in our research to analyze what it means to be displaced. Through a close study of virtual space, identity, and ritual, paired with precedents that address community building and spaces for the displaced; we came to understand that in the current social conditions, displacement, to a certain degree, is commonplace.


The goal of the project  is to build  community through an architecture that is based on the concept of symbiosis; creating mutually beneficial relationships while promoting individuality. Centering around the rituals of the courtyard creates a space for both individual and collective growth and adaptation. Creating an open-ended infrastructure promotes participation and fosters a physical connection to place, allowing you to leave your personal trace. From the scale of the dwelling to the larger community, CommonPlace exists where multiple identities merge.


Although the site, Tempelhof Airport and surrounding park, are important to the aid and potential resettlement of current refugees, CommonPlace consists of a building typology and planning approach that is site-less and adaptable. It addresses the idea of migration and flux as emerging constants in a world that is only becoming more globalized. How can the built environment begin to adapt to the new social conditions of displacement amidst globalization?


Overall, CommonPlace is an example of an effective approach to architecture and planning, which adapts to the migrant and the citizen in the current social conditions of displacement. Both a micro-housing building typology and participatory urban planning work together to proliferate diversity and individuality while creating reciprocity in community. Much like the symbiotic relationship of the fig and the wasp, CommonPlace encourages individual growth as a main component of community growth. The open-ended architecture adapts and develops as it is filled.

Housing in denser areas where the courtyard becomes the only open space.


Above is just one example of a way in which an initially small unit can expand  to mold to the user's needs and desires. This is an example of a apartment dwelling unit. The apartment unit begins as xxx square feet of enclosed space and has the ability to expand into a xxx square foot dwelling. It is up to the user to decide what materials to use in the expansion portion, as long as they are able to be structurally supported by the cross-laminated-timber (CLT) construction.

Below is a catalog of unit layouts as they are initially, and just some of the possibilities for expanding the original unit. Above is an example of the "apartment" unit which occupies the entirety of the L-shaped floor slab, but the plan also includes Micro-Units in which the initial square footage for the dwelling is xxx square feet, with the ablitity to expand for a total of xxx square feet.


Courtyard space in dense housing area


Site Model



View into public corridor next to the former airport hangar, now occupied with housing and public access to the open field.