I’ll be running a social history-come-architecture tour of the SO 36 district on Saturday 25th May, in association with Slow Travel Berlin.
Starts at 3pm, duration 2-3 hours (usually followed by beers and chat in a local bar) meeting on Spreewaldplatz near Cafe Marx, 15 € per person.
Please book through Slow Travel, or if not possible let me know by email and pay on the day: jimhudson40 (at) gmail.com
A little about the tour:
Since its origins in the 19th century, the eastern half of Kreuzberg (still known by its long-defunct ‘SO 36′ postcode) has long been one of Berlin’s most vibrant districts. In the 1960s, the Berlin Wall left the area as a somewhat isolated part of West Berlin, but by the late 60s the district had become famous as a place where students, artists, anarchists and immigrants came in search of a life of low rents, freedom and non-conformity. Venues such as the SO 36 club, still very much alive, formed the centre of Berlin’s punk and new wave subcultures, frequented by the likes of Iggy Pop and David Bowie.
Surrounded by the Wall on three sides for half a century, some strange situations arose, with streets, communities and even a mainline station being divided between East and West.
SO 36 is still famous for its annual May day riots, although things have been calmer in recent years. But the large number of squatters, political groups and alternative communities who protested each year led to some radical experiments in living and housing, most interestingly the regeneration projects of the 1980s, which were in part an attempt by West Berlin to rescue the area from becoming a slum. The Berlin Wall fell before some of these projects were even complete, and ironically, these community-led projects paved the way for the full-scale gentrification now taking place.
The walking tour is a mix of urban history, architecture and anecdote giving an insight into the past, present and possible future of the this fascinating district.
A quick post, but more details to be filled in over the next week…
First of all, there’ll be an architecture meetup at Hudson’s on Tuesday May 14th from 7.30pm. All welcome, come along for a beer and some archi/urban – based chat. Also, we’re hoping to show a short film by one of our number, Matt Tempest.
He describes it thus:
“Building Societies” – a short film about architecture, the 1970s and the North.
It’s also about Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, Harold Wilson, poverty, race relations, and his dad.
8 minutes 10 seconds.
Then some tours: I’ll be running a kind of social history-come-architecture tour of Saturday 25th May, working title “Riots, Ruins & Regeneration” around the Kreuzberg SO36 district. Time tbc, but will be roughly mid-afternoon start, as nice to end up at a pub…). Am doing this in association with Slow Travel Berlin, and need to sort out the price with them, more details to follow shortly.
Then a second tour, by popular demand, of some of the buildings from the International BauAustellung (IBA) of the 1980s (see this very blog for an excess of information about this subject). Friday 31st May, 2pm, meet at corner of Rudi-Dutschke-Straße and Wilhelmstraße, 15€ per person. We’ll begin in the ‘Neubau’ western end of the IBA area, working our way east (probably including a short bus hop) ending in the eastern end of Kreuzberg (nearest U-Bahn will be Schönleinstraße). Please email if you’re interested in joining me: jimhudson40 (at) gmail.com
Sven Eggers is running a tour/trip to Oranienburg to see Rimpl’s Einflughalle and other buildings, next Sunday, 5th May: http://www.buero-schwimmer.de/rimpl.html
I’ll add more detail here, and of course at Facebook: Berlin Architecture Circle shortly.
If you’re in the neighbourhood, Freya Copland has a photography exhibition at our cafe, do drop by for a coffee and have a look.
Update: runs until 11th May, when there’ll be a finissage from 7pm.
Hudson’s, Boppstraße 1, 10967 Berlin. hudsonscakes.com
Sorry, cancelled (due to sickness)
Alex Proyas’ Dark City is clearly indebted to the usual suspects of Metropolis, Bladerunner, various interpretations of Gotham City and maybe even Brazil, as well as overlapping to some degree with the Matrix and Inception. It’s less well known than these, but it’s been recommended to me more than once, so I thought we’d give it a go.
To explain it may give away much of the plot, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that it’s a kind of ‘cyber-noir’, set (seemingly) in a city of permanent night. A good cast includes Rufus Sewell.
Rarely do fictional cities include their own subway maps:
And yes, someonw really has included it in their Phd thesis:
Come along at 7.30, as we’ll start at 8pm. Hudson’s cafe, Boppstr 1, 10967
A few years back (scarily, it was 2008, how time flies) I blogged about the partial demolition of an IBA block by O M Ungers.
Sadly, as noted by Isar Steve, the remainder has now come down.
While nothing is sacred, it’s depressing when something thoughtless like this happens, especially as it’s essentially replacing much needed social housing with private luxury development (if anything actually gets built at all).
A spot of self-publicity in a way, as the 2nd, revamped edition of Berlin Urban Design, by Harald Bodenschatz, has been published recently, English translation by me*.
I notice that amazon.co.uk has the old, out-of-date edition, so check carefully before you buy. The new (2nd) edition has additional and extended chapters, bringing the narrative up to date with various current projects, including the building of the glorious new BER airport, due to open in 2012. 2013. 2014 the 21st century**.
I reviewed the original edition on this blog about three years ago, commenting that it was a good book with a poor English translation. As a consequence, I was given the chance to have a go myself, including some updated and additional chapters. Hope you like it.
The book is a short but oh-so-informative history of Berlin’s urban development, cantering quickly through its medieval roots to focus on the city’s colossal 19th century expansion, 20th century utopianism, and post-wall euphoria-to-debt story, with much more along the way. Maps and images are fantastic, text is not too shabby either.
Will bring some copies along to Wednesday’s book club.
* The intro was written in English by Karl Friedhelm Fischer. Original translation of 1st edition by Sasha Disko.
** See press for details. Mayoral careers can go down as well as up.
Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities is a series of descriptions, really conversations, told by a fictitious Marco Polo to an invented Kublai Khan. As Marco travels round the world on the Emperor’s business, his job is not to bring back treasure or trade, but to barter in stories – the accumulated wealth of his imagination.
Here are all the cities ever dreamed of; thin cities, cities and desire, cities and the dead, cities and memory, continuous cites, cities and signs. All are named after women – Raissa, Irene, Phyillis, Chloe… ‘In Chloe, a great city, the people who move through the street are all strangers. At each encounter they imagine a thousand things about one another; meetings which could take place between them, conversations, surprises, caresses, bites. But no-one greets anyone; eyes lock for a second, then dart away, seeking other eyes, never stopping.’
Calvino was writing about Venice – all the Venice’s collapsed, folded or vanished behind the tourist façade. Anyone who loves Venice, knows that its true life is half-glimpsed or dreamed, that the city reconfigures itself, yielding suddenly as you turn into a deserted square, snapping shut, as you walk past San Marco.
Reading Calvino reading Venice is a reminder of how often the controlled, measured world of knowledge fails us. So much of life resists the facts. Imagining Venice is imagining yourself, as Khan discovers – an unsettling exercise, but necessary, perhaps.
(from a review by Jeanette Winterson)
All welcome, so do read the book and join us for drinks, nibbles and discussion at 7.30pm at
Boppstr. 1, 10967
(corner of Schönleinstr., nearest U-Bahn Schönleinstr).
There are lots of films that are directly or obliquely about architecture, but not many that are actually about architects (I’m not counting here the kind of films where Tom Hanks plays a neatly widowed architect, shorthand for “creative type with higher/stable income” and pursued by Meg Ryan, with unfailingly tedious consequences).
This film is properly about an architect, in the form of modernist architect Howard Roark, played by Gary Cooper. Based on the book by the borderline bonkers/proto-libertarian Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead is all about one man’s individualistic stand against the forces of commercialism, mainstream taste, clients and, eventually the rule of law itself. The main character may or may not be loosely based on Frank Lloyd Wright – in any case he was apparently asked to design the buildings featured in the film, but his fees rather exceeded the budget).
The film was pretty much panned on its release in 1949, and maybe comes under ‘interesting’ rather than classic, but I’ve never seen the whole film so am looking forward to finding out.
8pm, admission free. At Hudson’s Cafe, Boppstraße 1 (corner of Schönleinstraße), 10967.
Recommended by two of our group, Soft City was written in the early 1970s when Raban lived in London, and is “a vivid, often funny portrait of metropolitan life, Soft City is part reportage, part incisive thesis, part intimate autobiography, and a much-quoted classic of the literature of the city and urban culture.”
An interesting (and much later) piece by Raban himself: http://www.jonathanraban.com/article.php?id=29
I’ve mentioned it in previous post(s), but don’t forget tomorrow night’s ‘Triumph of the City‘ debate, at which I’ll be a panellist. I know, standards are slipping.