Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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251 words

Big cities with loads of people living there face the challenge of providing space for the people to live in. If the city was built on a big scale with high buildings and accordingly wide roads, it is a problem that you can’t reasonably have a road every fifty metres or so as that’d just use a load of space for the roads. So you end up having blocks of houses with an empty square in the middle of them. Which is wasting quite a lot of precious space as well. So people came up with the idea of just building houses in the middle of those blocks to use the space more completely.

I keep being fascinated by that. And it’s done a lot in Berlin, where you’ll frequently see a house which you’d expect to have twenty flats have fifty doorbells. With the extra thirty ones belonging to the ‘Hinterhaus’. You’ll enter through the same front door but walk through the house and the garden to the next one to get there. And I imagine it’s quite a good place to live in as well – being right in town but not exposed to the noise of a street right in front of your room.

Blocks with four rows of houses in Berlin (Image from Google Earth)

In some blocks there are so many houses between two streets that they really look like a world of their own. Hundreds of people must be living there.

Block with many houses inside it in Berlin (Image from Google Earth)

Thanks to Google Earth for the Images and the not-quite-competent positioning of the streets on the photos.

February 20, 2006, 1:44


Comment by Dave2: User icon

Every time I run across clever wordplay in other languages, it makes me regret that I am not more of a linguist.

“Hinterhaus,” if I am not mistaken, would translate into “House Behind” (or “Behind the House”) would it not?

I’d imagine here it would be “Hiddenhouse” or something like that.

February 20, 2006, 15:35

Comment by ssp: User icon

Yeah that’s pretty much it.

Perhaps a bit more like back-house or rear-house (Hintertür, for example is back-door).

But it’s not really a wordplay… just a serious German word.

Next we go for the front-rows, sidecars and underbellies :)

I found some related discussion here. It seems to be a bit of a local thing, not many cities seem to have them. My guess would be large cities with big blocks and wide roads. Paris perhaps? Will have to Google Earth around a bit…

February 20, 2006, 16:12

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