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Studentendorf

 History
 

 

1957-1964
 
 

History of the Studentendorf
 
 
The Studentendorf Schlachtensee was part of a unique Reeducation Programme of the USA. The Studentendorf of Free University Berlin, as it was named officially, should accommodate students and help to establish and stabilize a democratic political system and market-oriented economic structure.  Therefore the Studentendorf was not just an academic housing campus, but it also had also a political and educational momentum. Thus the architectonic idea was accompanied by cultural and political lectures budgeted by the State Department. However, the demand for those lectures and such an ambitious programme was low. Academic initiatives remained an exception.


The students preferred to organize themselves in a more private way and took part in parties and dancing festivities. Eleanor Lansing Dulles, former founder of the campus, therefore came to the conclusion that German students were as young , educated and interested in political issues as their US counterparts, neither more nor less. Anyway, she complained about the situation at the Academic Director.

In 1963 the lecture programme was almost stopped as the financing Fund teetered on the brink of collapse on account of a financing shortfall. Furthermore the residents and the operating company of the Studentendorf felt uncomfortable with the lectures as they considered them as imposed and superfluous. In addition the shared space and rooms like the library were unprofitable particularly as the rents were fixed, and by intention they were never calculated as cost-covering. It was in 1963 that the experiment of a self-governed academic campus was facing its end.


1964 was the initial year for a new beginning with new statutes of the Studentendorf: The so called Dorfrat, kind of a parliament of residents, was founded. The mayor and his cabinet were established as reigning institutions of the village. The Academic Director was dispensed, therefore the Free University was losing influence in the Studentendorf, too.


But the new statutes were never ment to establish a new political order rather than an instrument to improve the domestic circumstances in the Studentendorf. So the residents resisted against all kinds of political or collective inducement. Leaking roofs, lack of light, noise protection and ventilation, small kitchens, narrow corridors and generous space without were everyday problems at that time. Last but not least, with the economic boom in post-war Germany the students claimed more individuality, own apartments, kitchens and bath rooms.

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The assassination of Benno Ohnesorg in 1967 mobilized again political protest in the Studentendorf, that became the heart of Berlinâ??s student or 68 movement. The legendary key exchange on the village green at the beginning of the 1970s the separation of residents according to their gender has been boycotted and came to an end.





It was in 1969 that in the course of the reform of German universities the Dorfrat and the Mayor were disestablished again and the Vollversammlung as parliament was inaugurated. The Studentendorfâ??s Fund collapsed as students cut the rents and demonstrated for higher state grants.


The 70s
 

After the collapse of the Fund the students union took over the Studentendorf, the lectures terminated. According to a new law the Student Autonomy became responsible for the operation of the Studentendorf. By that time new joint residences were established as experiment and uncommon way of living together. The Braunschweig based architects Krämer, Pfennig and Sieverts designed four new apartment houses with 352 lodging places.
Academic life changed in the 70s. The Club A18 in the former canteen became melting pot for residents and neighbours, and the Student  Autonomy started running facilities like the gym or the laundry, but the politization of students failed as the inhabitants were not interested in political debates.

 

1981-1999

 

Battle and Riots

 

20 years after their erection and after renovation it was in 1981 that the Studentendorf was facing ist break down. Constructional defects, the lack of living comfort and thermal insulation and a depleted technical infrastructure caused vacancies. The city of Berlin had to provide financial support of several million Deutsch Marks as to avert the collapse.
In 1982 and 1983 the Student Union therefore checked three alternatives:
1. The refurbishment without any changes in the ground plans at a cost of DM 15m
2. The refurbishment with changes in the ground plans, a reduces number of lodges and the formation of single and double as well as multi room apartments at a cost of DM 22m
3. The demolition and reconstruction of the Studentendorf with cellars and new ground plans at a cost of DM 38m.

Nevertheless in 1986 a custodion initiated plans to conserve the area as heritage. The architectural contest for a reconstruction was prematurely finished without result and started again after political discussions. Therefore Daniel Gogel, the architect of the Studentendorf, was elected as architect of a reconstructed Studentendorf again. Gogel had planned not only the reconstruction but new buildings with cellars, green roofs, a decentral electrical supply on the basis of solar energy.
More and more students fought against the demolition of their apartments. Also the Free University asked to put off the break down to a later time and renovate the apartments as to mitigate the housing shortage. In 1991 the Studentendorf Schlachtensee was nominated as archictural and garden heritage.

Nevertheless in 1986 a custodion initiated plans to conserve the area as heritage. The architectural contest for a reconstruction was prematurely finished without result and started again after political discussions. Therefore Daniel Gogel, the architect of the Studentendorf, was elected as architect of a reconstructed Studentendorf again. Gogel had planned not only the reconstruction but new buildings with cellars, green roofs, a decentral electrical supply on the basis of solar energy.
More and more students fought against the demolition of their apartments. Also the Free University asked to put off the break down to a later time and renovate the apartments as to mitigate the housing shortage. In 1991 the Studentendorf Schlachtensee was nominated as archictural and garden heritage.



 



A new era begins

 

 

After a long period of negotiations the cooperative society Studentendorf Schlachtensee eG was founded in 2002 as upcoming managing company for the refurbishment and operations. In December 2003 the bill of sale was signed, in spring 2004 Berlinâ??s city parliament, the Abgeordnetenhaus agreed upon the contract. The bill of sale fixed a purchase price of â?¬ 4,7m and planned refurbishment costs of â?¬ 20m.


The process of starting from new was difficult as most of the Studentendorf was vacant or destroyed. In 2002 no more than 20 inhabitants remained in the Studentendorf. The cooperative society step by step began to renovate the apartments as to be able to hire one by one.
In 2006 the Prime Ministerâ?? s Office appointed the Studentendorf as National Heritage and funded part of the renovation. Moreover Free University Berlin became one of the most important partners of the Studentendorf.
In spring 2009 after years of renovation the first two apartment houses were handed over to their new inhabitants and to Free University as main tenant.  Today about 860 students are living on the campus. The houses 20 and 21 are still uninhabited on account of ruinations. As of automn 2009 those houses will be refurbished, as well. The renovation of the Studentendorf shall be terminated in 2017. 900 students will then be living on the campus.