Summer Abroad in Berlin (Architecture)

"Hauptstadt, Raumstadt, Sofortstadt" capital city, spatial city, instant city (motto of the International Building Exhibition 2020 in Berlin)

The following course was held in summer 2013. Complete information for Summer Study Abroad 2014 will be posted (dates, descriptions, pricing) by December 20, 2013.

Berlin_ Formations of Urban Space explores the formation, activation, and evolution of the city’s urban spaces, from vacant voids (defined as vacant and uninhabited open space, often with charged cultural meaning) to public places (conversely defined as inhabited, well-used spaces, and well-identified by a community).

In this studio, through long walking tours and architectural design research, students experience and explore the significant works of urban space and architecture of Berlin, gaining firsthand knowledge of cultural and political influences on the design of a city in a European context.

Berlin_Formations of Urban Space

Generations, Evolutions, and Activations of Urban Voids and Articulated Public Places
Instructors: Antje Steinmuller, Christopher Falliers

Tentative Schedule
SF Campus: May 21–24
Berlin: May 31–June 15, 2013
SF Campus: June 24–28

Spots are still available in this course. Interested architecture students should contact Antje Steinmuller or Chris Falliers right away to start the approval process for registration.

For architecture students interested in taking this course AND the Berlin Past/Present course with Karen Fiss, please note that special arrangements to complete the summer architecture studio work must be made in advance. Please contact Steinmuller and Falliers for approval prior to registering for both summer Berlin courses.


The city of Berlin, the laboratory for the studio, holds a rich and culturally loaded set of urban spaces. It is a city marked by contrast, turmoil, and energy of its past and present. Oversize statues of Marx and Engels sit next to the Neo-Classicism of Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Altes Museum. Steep contradictions, such as in Potsdamer Platz, where a fragment of the Berlin wall sits among new constructions by Renzo Piano and Arata Isozaki, show Berlin as a city of contradiction and complexity.

The reconstruction of Berlin after World War II, new developments within the reunified Berlin after 1989, and the life of the contemporary city reveal Berlin as a city of continuing change and evolution. All of these influences and cultural constructions make Berlin one of the most unique contemporary cities in the world.

The specific nature of Berlin’s political and social conditions has left very different typologies of urban space, ranging from the monumental to the fleeting, from the figured to the parasitic. The studio investigates the specific nature of these formations, including their development, their cultural associations, and the opportunistic appropriation of how they are used.

The studio begins with a four-day intensive preliminary seminar and design workshop at CCA that introduces students to the program’s content and methodology. A digital reader is also provided as background to the course. Working in teams, students develop initial research into an analytical guidebook to urban space typologies in Berlin.

Once in Berlin, students contribute to site lectures by presenting their own research and analysis of the spaces and architectural works visited. The studio explores a specific set of existing typologies of urban space, through daily field trips and analytical exercises in a local studio space. Streets, plazas, and other traditional constructs constitute both evolutionary and designed forms of figured public space. The spatial actions at each of these scales are explored for their typological potential as ‘figured spaces,' ‘fields,' ‘fabrics,' and two forms of ‘spatial lines.' This analytical framework becomes an active tool for design.

An intensive five-day studio component at CCA concludes the course, exploring possibilities for articulating urban space through multi-scaled design actions. Students posit hybrids and extensions of existing typologies, and/or new public formations for the contemporary city.

The design problem explores the edge of Berlin’s Neukoelln district, on the edge of the defunct Naxi-era Tempelhof Airport. Students transform understandings and principles gleaned from the city into proposals for one of the so-called ‘pioneer fields.' These ‘fields’ are sites designated as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) 2020, a strategic planning initiative of the city’s Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. The IBA 2020 is currently soliciting proposals within a conceptual framework that looks at the interplay of the city as a capital, as a spatial canvas, and as a temporary, experimental space (Hauptstadt - Raumstadt – Sofortstadt, Capital city, spatial city, immediate city).


Undergraduates: successful completion of Architecture Studio 4 and instructor approval.
Graduates: successful completion of Architecture Studio 2 and instructor approval. Software: Working knowledge of Rhino and an introductory knowledge Grasshopper required. Intermediate knowledge of Grasshopper and knowledge of GIS a plus.

In addition, all students must be in good academic, conduct, and financial standing for the 2012–13 academic year.

Course Satisfies

For undergraduates, this course satisfies 3 units equivalent to half of an Advanced Architecture Studio or one 3 unit Architecture or Studio Elective.

For graduates, this course satisfies one 3 unit open architecture elective.

Program Fee

$4,650 + $50 summer registration fee

Program fee includes

3 units, housing, course reader, museum entrance fees, local transportation, field trips, and travel/health insurance (see insurance)

Program fee does not include

Airfare to and from Europe, meals

Please make sure you read the related links in full:
Financial Aid
Passport, Visa, and Insurance
Code of Conduct

All CCA Summer Study Abroad courses (including New Mexico, New York, and Texas Studios) are coordinated by the Office of Special Programs.


Office of Special Programs
Oakland campus, Ralls 201

Nina Sadek
Dean of Special Programs

Carol Pitts
Operations Manager, Special Programs