Deutsche Wohnen is one of the largest owners of listed residential properties in Germany, with more than 30,000 residential units. In short, we know how to assume our responsibilities for pre­serving architectural heritage. And we also know that the necessary moderni­sation will only be a success with the cooperation of the tenants.

Inclusive playground included

The Spring estate is situated in the heart of Berlin­-Kreuzberg and its name refers to the English word for the season. This is because the housing was built after the war with the support of the USA. Currently the estate is experiencing some­thing of a “second spring”, thanks to the mod­ernisation work that began in 2016. “Since 2016 we have been refurbishing 18 buildings with a total of 1,254 residential units, and in 2019 we again made good progress”, says technical project manager David Weinert. As Weinert explains, as well as the modernisation of lifts, entrances and the last section of plumbing and wiring, some of the projects are rather unusual for rental apart­ments. “On two houses we have created green roofs so that rainwater can evaporate and not flow into the sewers, which improves the micro­climate and air quality in the city. In the summer they insulate the houses against the heat, too.” Something very special is certainly the already completed inclusive playground, which is to be followed by two more. An inclusive playground is designed so that it can also be used by children in wheelchairs. There is a raised sandpit, for in­stance, and a bridge that is also fun to zip across in a wheelchair. And the grounds are now a real feature altogether, with wild flowers to attract insects, charging stations for four electric cars, and new planting to include flowers and shrubs that are also edible. The modernisation work is due to be finished in 2020.

Careful refurbishment in the south of Berlin
Maintenance work on 380 residential units in Berlin­-Zehlendorf was largely completed in 2019. Here the main focus was on the careful restor­ation of the roof, façade and entrances. The build­ings date from the 1930s and are not themselves listed, but they border on the Waldsiedlung that runs along the Argentinische Allee and was partly designed by Bruno Taut. The colour scheme was therefore chosen to show that the rows of houses belong together. “One special element was the insulation of the original double casement win­dows”, explains the technical project manager Jendrik Kruse. “We didn’t just replace them, but rabbeted the inside windows instead so that the thicker double-glazing panes could be fitted – one window at a time.” Another layer of roofing felt was added and the roof was resealed. This made it possible to keep the old roof and save large quantities of waste. Mineral wool rather than synthetic materials were used to insulate the ceilings in the cellar. The work was closely coordinated with the tenants by means of two tenant meetings, a meeting with the tenants’ association and a guided tour. Work on refurbish­ing the staircases and redesigning the grounds around the existing mature trees began in early 2020.

Triple solution: refurbishment, extension and new construction
Refurbishment, an extension and new construc­tion are basically good news in a city like Berlin. But some of the local tenants are also worried about what the building work will mean. So in the Grellstraße in Prenzlauer Berg, Deutsche Wohnen made numerous concessions to its tenants. The borough and the company signed a joint agree­ment to formalise the arrangement. “We had meetings with individual tenants, explained the purpose of the work and took cases of hardship into account”, says commercial project manager Lutz Reichert. The project consists of several parts: the modernisation of 253 existing apart­ments, then there are 48 penthouse units, 63 new­-build units and the redesign of the grounds. Modernisation work and the new construction started in 2019; work on the penthouse levels is due to begin in 2020. The extensive building work will be completed in spring 2022.

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