Glossary of Terms and Neologisms

German words are often used where no suitable Anglo-Saxon equivalent exists. Equally, neologisms are often coined in order to approach subject matter from new angles. Translations and explanations can be found here.


Advertecture [A SLAB neologism]
Advertising so large that it entirely obscures the architecture supporting it.


Backsteinoptik [German – ‘back-shtine optic’] Brick-look effect
The best way to quickly make a building look as though it’s been built with bricks is to cover it in brick-look panels which sort of jigsaw together and then fall off seven years later.

Baulücke [German – ‘bow looker’] building gap
A gap between buildings where a structure destroyed by WWII bombing once stood. Some of these gaps are still empty and full of scrub-land, but more often than not they’ve been built upon or transformed into playgrounds, or basketball and football courts.

Blurbanism [A SLAB neologism]
Where urbanism and blurb colide.

Brutiful [A SLAB neologism]
Brutal and beautiful in equal measure.


Fakeytecture [A SLAB neologism]
A building which has yet to be built, but considered important enough for the surrounding urban setting that a 1:1 scale model is erected in its place until building begins. Usually the substitute is an inkjet print on vinyl sheeting, hung from an enormous tubular steel structure. Blurbanistically speaking, the fake is of more interest than the building it represents.


Gemütlichkeit [German – ‘guh-moot-lich-kite] Comfort
It means ‘comfort’, but actually entales a whole lot more than just a state of momentary comfort you might experience in a comfortable chair, and is closer to a kind of holistic, unsurpassable form of comfort, which, when sought after in every waking moment with a sense of spiritual purpose, becomes an entire way of life.


An adjective for experience-based techniques that help in problem solving, learning and discovery. A heuristic method enables a person to discover or learn something for themselves.

Hof [German – ‘horf’] yard
The backyard of an apartment house.


Kiez [German – ‘keats’] neighborhood
The roots of the word are very interesting. Originally a ‘kiez’ was part of an actual place, and was used to describe the part of a medieval town just outside the gates of the landowner’s grounds, typically where anglers and fishmongers dwelt. Later, the word developed to mean simply a district of a town. There’s a good explanation at the German Wikipedia here.


Mauerstreifen [German – ‘mauwer shtrifen’] wall stripe
The mined, guarded, and machine-gun-turreted strip of land either side of the Berlin Wall.


Sondermüll [German – ‘sondah mool’] special garbage
Often translated as toxic waste, which is empirically correct. However, the image conjured up by that might be barrels of used battery acid with skull-and-crossbones decals on the side of them. In German Sondermüll means that, too, but its also used to define things like broken computer printers, TV’s or dishwashers, which in truth are also toxic, and which should only be disposed of with care.