Hortopie Jacobi

Sustainable transformation of a former cemetery

The project proposes a strategy for the sustainable and resilient transformation of former cemeteries. Working together with real players and in the context of the 2019 closed cemetery “New St. Jacobi” in Berlin-Neukölln, we illustrate how this green space can be sensitively transformed into a new urban typology for the post-fossil future.

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Due to the changes in the funeral system and the trend toward cremations over earth burials, large areas of Berlin´s cemeteries are currently being closed. Different players are now fighting over these last open spaces, which, due to their central location, enormous biodiversity and public ownership, have the potential to become the driving force for fair urban development. While cemeteries were once part of everyday life, where markets, farming and animal husbandry took place, we have now become accustomed to avoiding these places. So how can we make cemeteries more diverse again, implementing current urban issues such as ownership, living models, density, land policy and ecology?

Within the next 30 years, the New St. Jacobi cemetery will no longer be used for cemetery purposes. We make this timeline a design strategy to illustrate the transformation process based on three selected points in time, each focusing on different levels of intervention. 2020 THE TAKE OFF - Cemeteries are common grounds and open to all for recreation and contemplation purposes. To secure the publicness of these places in the long term, we propose an economic system that separates the ownership of land from the buildings constructed on it and legally anchors the co-determination of the neighborhood, the users, and selected urban experts: the first Berlin Cemetery Community Land Trust is founded. A committee with representatives meets regularly and decides about upcoming programs and (construction) projects on site. 2030 THE JACOBI MIX - As a result of this new type of organization, a diverse group of players is revitalizing the site, first built and green structures emerge. New building typologies with adaptive floorplans such as the “Public-Living-Room” or the “Productive-Residential-Hybrid” provide spaces, where users can live, rest, learn, work, mourn, be, dwell, sleep, produce, and harvest together. The “Learning Factory” as a center for life-long education can be used 24/7 – hosting a kindergarten and a school, but also co-working and neighborhood initiatives in the evening. The urban wilderness unfolds within the boundaries of the new buildings, creating a public garden with various atmospheres in the circular city, including areas for beekeeping, food production, vertical and rooftop gardens, orchards, and a city forest. 2050 THE CITY MACHINE - The transformation of the St. Jacobi cemetery has become a pilot project for a bottom-up cooperative urban development that guarantees diversity instead of mono-structures. It operates as a system that maintains itself and others by cooperating, adapting, reusing, and sharing. - Hortopie Jacobi is a project by Team Dis+Ko: Flavia Biianu, Sina Jansen, Lisa-Marie Kolbinger, Julian Mönig, Samuel Reichl, Lisa Reis, Binta von Rönn und Nina Wester.