The Accidental Planners

Near Alexanderplatz, in central Berlin, is a government building complex that has been abandoned for the past decade. Built as the national statistics office of East Germany, it later housed the surveillance archives of the Stasi. It was supposed to be torn down and replaced by private development, but then a group of artists staged a remarkable intervention. They now lead a €140 million plan to save the Haus der Statistik and adapt it to community needs.

The Berlin activists who staged a protest at a vacant government building didn’t imagine they’d end up leading a €140 million redevelopment project.




  • Naomi Stead
  • Alan Thomas
  • Sandy Isenstadt
  • Simon Sadler

Naomi Stead

Naomi Stead is a columnist for Places. She is an architecture critic and Head of Architecture at Monash University.

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Alan Thomas

Alan Thomas is a columnist for Places. He is Editorial Director for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Chicago Press and a photographer specializing in urban landscape.

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Sandy Isenstadt

Sandy Isenstadt is a professor of architectural history at the University of Delaware, and a columnist for Places.

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Simon Sadler

Simon Sadler is a columnist for Places. He teaches the history and theory of architecture, design, and urbanism across several programs at the University of California, Davis, where he is a professor in the Department of Design.

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