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Thinking about built form

I started writing something long and complex about how the house I was born in still shapes my ideas of how and where to live. (I was born at home, with midwife.)

It got too complicated.

So here’s a picture of the building instead:

1 Berger Allee, Duesseldorf

1 Berger Allee, Duesseldorf

It’s the one right at the corner. (Full photo here.) When we lived there, Duesseldorf’s Altstadt was not yet (re-)gentrified and the doctor who practiced next door provided (then illegal) abortions to the area prostitutes. But you can see it used to be (and, I’m told, is, once more) a handsome building on a street with equally fine apartment buildings. Five to six floors of apartments, and retail on the ground floor (a couple of years ago “my” building had an art gallery – not sure if that’s still there now). Frontage right to the sidewalk (or Trottoir, as Rhinelanders called them), and green spaces in the enclosed Hof (courtyard) behind the buildings.

There’s something about that density I really like.

(Maybe this will be the year I finally manage to read Life, A User’s Manual by Georges Perec.)


  1. Hi Yule,
    Thanks for sharing a bit of your history. Structure/form does influence behaviour, so it makes sense that your earliest influences include an image of the place you were born. I spent my early youth on a farm, and still quite vividly remember the farm house where we lived. The combo of farm & farmhouse still occupies part of the lens I see the world with. I’d show you a picture of that farmhouse, yet it got trashed for modern development!

    Comment by Ben Ziegler — February 8, 2010 #

  2. Luckily we’re moving away from greenfield development, focusing on brownfields instead. Too bad about your childhood farmhouse, Ben…

    The apartment building – in fact, that whole handsome block of Berger Allee – was slated for demolition in the 70s or 80s when Mannesmann (today also affiliated with Vodafone) “needed” space to expand its HQ (they already have a tower at the other end of the street). Can you imagine? A whole block of mono-cultural corporate wasteland where there was (and still is) a healthy, mixed-use community?

    It almost happened. Not sure how exactly it was stopped – I guess some heritage types got in there and raised a stink, haha… 😉

    Comment by Yule — February 8, 2010 #

  3. duesseldorf, nice city.. i want to go there again.. :/

    Comment by Multiwp — February 9, 2010 #

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