Slow Architecture

Daniel Lowe, Architecture

Initial investigations at the start of the year into the city of Berlin and specifically the district of Kreuzberg uncovered a multitude of narratives – one of particular interest to me was the use of the residual spaces left after a tumultuous history which have in some instances been reclaimed and are currently used by sub-cultures who perpetuate alternative and anti-capitalist lifestyles in amongst the economic powerhouse that Berlin has become.
The store and reuse of material is provided for on platforms where methods of building and innovative use of unwanted materials and be experimented with and taught.

The centre of the piece is a carving into the fertile soil of Mariannenplatz to create a permaculture garden, which steps down to a kitchen and then down again to a group dining area – a celebration of gathering which is an integral aspect of alternative living communities. Here at the fulcrum, methods of food growth and preparation are taught and shared.’


For the cooking area it is especially important to maintain a working environment by means of adequate ventilation to prevent excess heat, humidity and odours from the cooking process. These will naturally rise due to stack effect. The heat energy will be directly recycled into the greenhouse, brought in at floor level to rise through the plants whilst a carbon filter system will rid of odours and any pollutants. In this way heat energy is not discarded but serves another purpose – integration and not separation by means of relative building location and use of stack effect.’

Solar Control

The intent with regard to solar energy is to utilise the optimum orientation of the garden to ensure the most south light during the day – so sunlight is possible for growth. In addtion, the greenhouse panes are sloped to maximise the glazed area for heat gain. Clerestory windows at high level in the kitchen bring light down into the adjacent main spaces and also provide a view onto the garden and its trailing planters with the historic Bethany building front entrance facade above. A sloped garden would maximise solar exposure still further but a stepped arrangement is necessary for drainage purposes.’


A vital aspect of the intervention is its self sustaining nature and alignment with principles of slow architecture – setting itself up in opposition to quick building for short term goals. This ecological approach carves into the landscape to form levels to grow foods which are cooked and eaten. Thus an acknowledgement is made that the earth itself is store to a different type of capital – energy. The plantings in the beds are considered pairings and groups to create plant systems which will naturally support healthy soil and encourage diversity according to permaculture principles.’


Sandy soil at Mariannenplatz is ideal for plant growth provided correct irrigation and drainage is considered. A an eco-friendly French Drain collects rainwater that drains from the higher soil beds and channels it away to a designated soakaway thereby protecting the main building.’

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