With increasing living costs in China’s megacities, people face difficulties in finding affordable living spaces. Whereas, China has a long history of social housing provision, current programmes are not sufficient to cover the demand. To find new and innovative solutions to address the affordable housing crisis, the China National Engineering Research Centre for Human Settlements (CNERCHS) seeks experiences from other countries such as Germany that also has a long history of social housing provision, but faces similar challenges. Facilitated by the Sino-German Urbanisation Partnership, scholars from CNERCHS visited Berlin and respective social housing projects from 8-12 April 2018, to get an insight into Berlin’s public housing development model and to evaluate the feasibility of a capacity building programme.
The group visited the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing where they were introduced to the public mechanisms towards rental-control and the maintenance of affordable housing stock in the city, for example: Berlin mainly provides housing for low-income groups by providing construction subsidies to public and private investors. In addition, the group got a historical overview of housing in Berlin post WWII, along with strategies to be adopted for developing Berlin’s future housing stock.
Next, they visited an ongoing project of housing cooperative “Leuchtturm” developed by the Trias Foundation. Here they were introduced to the foundation’s model which provides financial support and encourages a self-organized approach for low-income families towards housing ownership. In addition, other field visits included a trip to the historical housing project Siemensstadt (1928) declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Prenzlauer Berg to understand the housing transformation in the region from the 1920s to the 21st century.
Berlin’s housing rental guarantee measures and cooperative mechanisms can serve as an example for Beijing’s attempts at a cooperative housing model and its public housing development. Within the logistical limitations of time and budget of their study tour, the participants observed that through effective planning of a capacity building programme by GIZ, there is vast potential of exchange with different stakeholders in Berlin’s housing development sector.