In 1970s Matta-Clark became the King Midas of Odd Lots. By buying a series of forgotten wastelands and interstitial strips between buildings, an additional value was implemented to those fake real-estates. Nobody had shown any interest in them before, allowing him to purchase any piece for 25 USD at public auctions. While in his case they were mostly remnants of urban policies, Berlin also experienced a similar production of odd lots, being rather remnants of standardisation.
GDR only produced optimal rectangular housing blocks, no extrange shapes; and the whole industry was organised in order to supply prefabricated walls/panels/beams for such structures. As a result, triangular voids blossomed in sites where GDR rectangular estates met Prussian poligonal party walls. These boundaries almost did not want to touch each other. In Option Lots (2010), Brandlhuber+ have compiled 58 remnants of standard-oriented architecture in Berlin, ranging average lots of 10 m long by 0,4-2,5 m wide. In their research, they calculate the whole unbuilt volume in 7,563 m3 and around 20,000 m2 of windowless walls.
As Alexander Koch proposes in his recent article for Arch+ magazine, this makes one dream of Option Lots as the ideal headquarters for the future Contemporary Art Museum that Berlin is planning to build. Lacking enough economic resources for such a polemic landmark, the future of the institution is still uncertain and has generated a huge debate in Berlin. The city started the project as a simple way to boost real estate value of the area surrounding the main Railway Station, a whole economic speculation process, to be intentionally accelerated by artists. The budget was shrunk from initial 30 million euro for a permanent institution to 600,000 euro for a temporary show; now increased to 1 million euro. The chosen site is probably going to be a victim of intermediary use of a vacant lot (Zwischennutzung): a marketing excuse to avoid a permanent collection, while still rising land prices.
Brandlhuber+’s voids could at least return these spaces back to the citizens.
[1,2> Option Lots – urban research by Brandlhuber+, 2010][3> Option Lots featured at Arch+Magazine 201/202]