Sharing Ideas on Housing and Care

Delegation from Harvard University and the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Germany visiting housing projects

It was an extraordinary visit from very special guests. A group of researchers from the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University had come to Germany to visit different locations in Berlin and Hanover and get a first-hand impression of community-oriented and ageing-appropriate housing projects.

The first leg of their trip took the delegates - Dr. Chris Herbert and Dr. Jennifer Molinsky (Harvard) as well as Dr. Anne Marie Brady (Marshall Fund) - to the Berlin-based STATTBAU urban development company. Using the metropolis of Berlin as an example, the experts discussed the ways in which innovative housing and urban development can be combined in a growing urban region and framed as an opportunity for needs-oriented housing and living environments. A visit to the “Walden 48” housing project, a multi-storey timber building, offered a glimpse into the practical implementation of such an approach.

A piece of good practice was also on the programme of day 2 that was dedicated to a model residential building in Berlin’s Sredzkistraße 44 that had been redeveloped with federal funding. Members of the tenant cooperative called SelbstBau as the developer and entity responsible for the project, as well as representatives of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Building and the KfW development bank, explained the goal behind this project and related initiatives, which is to create low-barrier and affordable housing that is integrated into the wider living environment. A tour of the model apartment showcased the many options for accessible and user-friendly design and equipment that enable independent living in old age. The fact that precisely cooperative approaches secure the residents vital prerequisites for participation and identification with “their own” residential environment, was borne out by the visit to another project run by the cooperative, the Werkpalast shared housing project in Berlin’s Lichtenberg district.

Transitioning to currently funded projects, the delegation traveled to the city of Hanover to visit the Confederation Forum for Community Living (Bundesvereinigung des Forums für Gemeinschaftliches Wohnen). At the coordinating office of the “Shared housing, self-determined living” programme, the delegates were given information about current challenges and practical implementation models, including those that combine adult care and support with modern forms of housing. These topics were discussed in greater detail during a visit to the “Concerted Action on Care” unit at the Federal Ministry of Health and the Long-term Care Insurance Research Centre of the statutory health insurance’s umbrella associations, where the delegation were given more answers and from other specialist perspectives.

In an expert exchange with the Head of the Directorate-General for ‘Demographic change, senior citizens, social welfare’ at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Prof. Dr. von Schwanenflügel, the guests recapped their visit. Taking stock, they affirmed that it was all about finding practical responses to demographic trends that embraced people’s potentials and commitment while leaving no one behind. Both sides agreed to stay in touch to discuss ways to take these insights further and translate them into concrete action.


Further information

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (in English)

The German Marshall Fund (in English)  

Model residential building in Berlin (in German)

STATTBAU – Stadtentwicklungsgesellschaft Berlin (in German)

"Altersgerecht umbauen" programme of th KFW development bank (in German) (in English)

Long-term Care Insurance Research Centre of the statutory health insurance’s umbrella associations (in German)