4 JUN 2021
"I would have loved to have moved into the shell already," said one resident eagerly awaiting to move into “Lebensort Vielfalt” (Living space diversity) the housing and support project initiated and run by the Gay Advice Association Berlin. In 2012, when it was first opened, the project was unique in Germany and Europe in its size and diversity.
It is home to 24 flats for intergenerational living with a focus on older gay men. The first assisted living community for gay men with dementia has its place here, as well as the office of Gay Counselling Berlin. The café and restaurant "Wilder Oskar" had to close in the meantime, the gastronomic competition in the lively district being too fierce.
The preparations for the project took more than six years, 17 months of which were pure construction time. A total of around six million euros was invested. More than half of it was financed by the charity Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin because the banks shied away from the risk of such a pilot.
Nine years later, the house is firmly anchored in the neighbourhood, has received a prestigious real estate award, and has welcomed many visitors from all over Europe, such as the mayor of Helsinki, who came to learn about the unique approach.
There is an estimated 1.8 million LGBTQ+ seniors in Germany, says Dieter Schmidt of Gay Advice Berlin. Due to the success of the pilot project in Charlottenburg and the strong demand, the association is venturing into another, much larger project that is scheduled to open in 2023. This time the bank was willing to finance the project.
The intergenerational and intercultural community housing project will be built in the urban redevelopment area at Südkreuz station. As with the first project, the Berlin architectural firm ‘roedig.schop architekten’ is responsible for the construction. The seven-storey new building, called ‘Lebensort Vielfalt II’, will provide space for around 70 flats, including one care and two therapeutic shared flats, spacious communal rooms and a variety of services open to the neighbourhood. A special focus will be on the encounter of generations and cultures.
The housing offer is primarily aimed at single gay seniors, but also at older lesbian women, trans and inter persons as well as younger LGBTQ+ people. Depending on their support needs, tenants are supported by an outpatient care service, therapeutic care and social counselling, among other services. In addition, an employment day centre for LGBTQ+ people with learning disabilities - with and without a refugee background - is planned.
“The neighbourly togetherness is not only to be lived internally, but also explicitly externally”, emphasizes Dieter. A day-care centre for children and a restaurant with an adjoining neighbourhood event room will be part of an open house that is available to all population groups of the newly emerging neighbourhood.
In the evenings and at weekends, the young people of the neighbourhood can use some of the rooms of the day-care centre for their activities, and the restaurant "Kiez-Raum" is developing into a lively neighbourhood centre. “The pandemic has shown us how immensely important neighbourhood is," Dieter concludes. "With our offer we want to stand for a fair, inclusive society, and for all people openly living together in the city."