Recumbent tower:
the street over
the motorway

Georg Heinrichs (*1926)

Drawing by Georg Heinrichs, felt-tip marker over silver gelatin on cellulose acetate, 49,5 x 99,5 cm
© Berlinische Galerie

On the left, the planning sketch shows an elongated section of a massive complex with four stairways for access. The lower floors extend into stepped terraces. Other buildings lower down to the right and in the background frame a sunken green courtyard.

A home over a motorway? Space was in short supply in West Berlin, so it seemed like a plausible idea. Housing was urgently needed, and there was nowhere to expand because of the Wall around the edge. In 1971 Georg Heinrichs (*1926) worked with Klaus Detlev Krebs (*1945), under the aegis of the housing company DEGEWO, to develop Schlangenbader Straße, a street along the top of the urban speedway, as a “recumbent tower”. More than 1,000 dwellings and 10,000 square metres of commercial space were created in the 600-metre-long structure over the recently finished A 104 (now A 100). Other residential buildings were added alongside around planted courtyards. It was a completely new type of structure, and nothing like it had been implemented before. The complex is still unique in Germany and has been listed as a protected monument since 2018.

Four of the design drawings for this visionary project are held in our Architecture Collection. They show exterior elevations of the complex as seen from the motorway and the courtyards.

Autobahnüberbauung Schlangenbader Straße, exterior view terrace and patio, perspective
1976 – 1982
Fiber pen over silver gelatin on cellulose acetat
49,5 x 99,5 cm
Endowment Georg Heinrichs




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