Autobahnuberbauung Schlangenbader Strasse

Berlin, Germany | C.1981

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Travel back in time, anywhere between 1981 and 1984, and take a tour of Autobahnuberbauung Schlangenbader Strasse with Berlin mayor Richard von Weizsäcker. You’ll find that this might be his least favorite building in all of Berlin.

Colloquially referred to as the “snake,” Autobahnuberbauung Schlangenbader Strasse is a housing project designed by architect Georg Heinrichs. It was actually built over top of the existing Autobahn speedway and, despite Mayor Weizsäcker’s distaste for it, Schlangenbader is a protected monument site.

In regard to this building, Weizsäcker was quoted as saying “If the devil wants to do something bad to this city, he will have something like the ‘snake’ built again.” Early on, the complex was affected by crime and increased pollution. But after EUR 6.6 million of investments, the security infrastructure was substantially increased.

Completed in 1981, the project was built using two separate structural systems. One system to hold the Autobahn, and the other for the apartments themselves to help eliminate unwanted vibrations or sounds intruding into the living unit. At 600m long and 46m high, the project itself is also one of the largest single residential complexes in all of Europe. It contains a total of 1,064 apartments including single studio, multi-room, and senior citizen living accommodation.

Despite its criticism both during and after construction, the Schlangenbader has received critical praise for its architectural design. The building has won the Renault Traffic Design Award for advanced transportation Architecture.

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