Housing in hamburg: eight euros rent is possible

The urban development authority presents a model project in Neugraben that is intended to show what housing for normal earners could look like.

Three quarters wooden: Vogelkamp project Photo: IBA

In Neugraben, the Senate has launched another attempt to bring housing onto the market that normal earners can afford. In the Vogelkamp neighborhood, where a model apartment was on view Wednesday, the cold rent will be a maximum of eight euros per square meter. "Hamburg’s citizens need living space outside of publicly subsidized housing that is affordable with an average salary," said Urban Development Senator Dorothee Stapelfeldt (SPD).

The Senate has been trying to combat the housing shortage for years by setting a goal of approving 10,000 new apartments a year. To curb rents, it mandates a 30 percent share of social housing where it has influence. However, this has hardly dampened prices for new rentals, which is why Red-Green initiated a pilot project for eight-euro housing. To this end, IBA Hamburg worked with Stapelfeldt’s authority to draw up a call for tenders designed to ensure construction that is as cost-effective as it is functional.

In Neugraben, the Swiss insurance company Helvetia and its architect Heiner Limbrock of the Limbrock-Tubbesing office were awarded the contract. In order to stay within budget, Limbrock opted for wood as the building material. The buildings are made of 75 percent wood. Optimizing materials, such as prefabricating the softwood walls, helped speed up construction. "Wood construction itself is not cheaper, but the material costs the same," says Limbrock. "But the speed of construction makes all the difference."

He and his staff also increased the building depth, which reduced the exterior facade and saved money. Light shines through floor-to-ceiling windows. Limbrock did away with hallways. Instead, there are open and generously proportioned living and dining areas.

On an area of 70 ha a total of approximately 1,500 residential units are being built in four construction phases.

Fifty percent of the units are apartment buildings. The other half is a family-friendly mix of single-family homes, duplexes and townhomes.

To compensate for the lack of basement space, each of the semi-open kitchens has a separate utility room that serves as storage. Savings were also made by using less expensive alternative products, such as door handles.

The three bedrooms, which lead directly off the living area, are almost all the same size. "We designed them so that theoretically there is room for two in each of the bedrooms, which means up to six people can live in one apartment," says Limbrock. The goal is to allow different types of housing so that a mixed and lively neighborhood is created, according to Karen Pein, managing director of IBA Hamburg.

Last year, the municipal housing company Saga already built four so-called system houses with nearly 150 apartments, which allowed rents of 6.50 to eight euros per square meter. "We hope to compare our empirical values with those of Saga," Stapelfeldt said. In Neugraben, she said, it can be seen that freely financed eight-euro housing is possible. Now it is a matter of developing this further, she added.

For the Neugraben apartments, the IBA guarantees that rents will not be raised in the first five years. Peter Lewalter, CEO of Helvetia, does not yet have an answer to what rent will have to be paid after the five years. "However, based on the positive outcome, we are planning further projects in the area of affordable housing," he says. The city is also planning more eight-euro projects to ensure a mixed housing supply in all parts of the city.

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