Women’s Olympic Village

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When visiting Munich a few weeks ago I found this place behind the Olympic Stadium and the pompous BMW World (by Coop Himmelblau). Originally built for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games to house the female athletes it has been used since as student housing for more than 800 students. It is a huge cluster of tiny maisonettes, each student living in a house of their own. The unusual scale is further accentuated by the massive 1970’s high-rise blocks (the village for the male athletes) rising on all sides of this strange mini-world.

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Originally designed by Werner Wirsing and built in 1969-1971 it was first demolished and then rebuilt in 2006-2010 as part of “kritische Denkmalpflege” or “critical heritage preservation” as German like to call it (without irony). Badly in need of repairs it was apparently not possible to repair the original buildings to match new energy and fire safety standards. Nevertheless the village had been very popular as a student residence because of the privacy and individuality it provided – and thus creating a spontaneous community with shared breakfasts and parties in the alleys. That is why the owners made the decision to rebuild the whole 1970’s ensemble, slightly adjusted and slightly larger, but basically just as it was – again. The architect Wirsing (at the time around 90 years old) collaborated with a younger company of architects Bogevischs Buero & Keller Damm Roser Landschaftsarchitekten) to do the new design. The result looks weird and great, like something from the German 70’s but with the sharpness of design and implementation that was the original aim: brutal and sophisticated, serious and playful.

The village is low and dense to the extreme. The alleys are only 2,3m wide and that includes the small “front garden strip”. Each apartment is only 3,15m wide and measures 18m2 but includes a kitchen and bathroom on the lower level and a bedroom with inbuilt furniture and a roof terrace upstairs. The only windows downstairs open to the alley and are used by the residents to display interesting studenty stuff (beer cans, toys, flags etc).

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The alley is used as a common garden.
Axonometric drawing of the original maisonette (courtesy of Bauwelt.de)
Axonometric drawing of the original maisonette with an open space connecting the floors. (copyright Bauwelt.de)
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This is a family apartment that spans two units – note window display
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G-row

The students pay 313 euros/month for a private house with its own roof terrace.The best thing though: students are encouraged to paint the house fronts in any way they like – with free paint provided by the student housing company.

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