The High-Deck housing development is a large residential complex with approximately 6,000 residents located in the Neukölln district of Berlin, Germany. The development was constructed during the 1970s and 1980s as part of social housing initiatives.
There is something called "architecture bashing." A young resident of the housing development told photographer David Hiepler that he no longer talks to journalists because they write "completely wrong things," referring to Bild and B.Z. He suggested that Hiepler should come in the summer as it is "really beautiful" here. Unfortunately, the media often portrays architecture in a negative light. The housing development in Neukölln, which has been a protected monument since 2020, was built in the 1970s on 32 hectares for 6,000 residents according to plans by Rainer Oefelen and Bernhard Freund, albeit in a qualitatively reduced form. Poor maintenance and neglect — a recurring public problem in Germany — have caused this sought-after location to decline into a social hotspot.
The separation of car and pedestrian levels seems almost visionary today. Green spaces on top, cars underneath: The residential area appears tranquil, and, as David Hiepler found when he photographed here in the uncomfortable February of 2023, residents have a strong sense of identification with the housing development. While neighborhood management and various other programs are showing effects, they take time. And they do not replace the continuous care that the High-Deck housing development lacked. Text by Ursula Baus