Guerillas in the midst (of cabbages)

2009.06.30

A couple of weeks back there was an attempted mid-summer-night’s mass squatting of Tempelhof Airport, so we went to see how things were going, but somehow ended up behind the line of police on Columbiadamm holding back the would-be squatters.  (They weren’t physically holding them back – most of the protesters were over in the adjoining park, making happy with techno.)

The purpose of the squat (as I understand it) was to highlight opposition to the creeping gentrification of Berlin, typified, in the squatters’ view, by the latest plans for the recently defunct Tempelhof.  Gentrification in Berlin is a subject that I’m quite confused about.  Where, I often ask myself, do all the people come from rich enough to buy all the luxury appartments which continue to spring up around Prenzlauerberg and other parts of the city? (and increasingly in Kreuzberg 36).  Is there no recession?  Does Berlin have lots of well paid jobs suddenly, rather than a problem with long term structural unemployment, aided by an ever increasing numnber of out of work actors/writers/musicians?

More thoughts on that soon, but anyway, back at the airport, where, after we’d nervously ‘entshuldigunged’ our way through the police wall from the wrong side, my girlfriend commented to me that what they really should be trying is guerilla gardening.  “Why doesn’t someone break through the fence with some gardening equipment and plant rows of carrots and such?” she said.

Now, the Tempelhof site is colossal – look at it here on Google maps, and you realise just how big.  So I don’t lie awake worrying that the whole thing will be turned into luxury housing.  Germany doesn’t have enough people who could afford that much luxury (or so I assume ).  But it does seem a shame that there’s not something a bit more radical or inspired on the cards.  The final three in the current competition are the UK’s Chora/Gross Max, Urban essences Architektur / Lützow 7 Landschaftsarchitektur*, and Graft Architekten / Büro Kiefer Landschaftsarchitektur, the latter both in Berlin.  Some links here, here and here.

There’s also an exhibition on until 10 July, 12-19.00 Uhr, at Gewerbehof Orco-GSG, Gneisenaustraße 66/67, 10961 Berlin.

*I was going to link to individual sites here, but can’t be bothered.  Architects: stop doing your sites in Flash – it’s rubbish, looks overdesigned and you can’t link to individual pages.

About 15 years ago there was a previous competition, which included a typically leftfield entry from the UK’s Will Alsop (then as Alsop & Störmer):

I’m not entirely sure what an ‘economic activator’ is, but I like the idea of a big outdoor venue, a forest, canal, city farm, and…. Schrebergartens.  Schrebergartens are part of the Berlin (and wider german) tradition of living in apartments but putting all the gardens together in one place nearby, known as Kolonies.  We spent much of last weekend enjoying some of the 48 Stunden Neukölln events, but in particular the Kolonies, some of which were open to the public just for the weekend.  I’m going to write some more on this (have been off exploring some others further afield) but not right now, as must rush, and have decided better to post short and more often than my usual habit of thinking about something for weeks then not doing it at all.

PS – was just looking for a good image from the web, and notice that someone else already has.  So read theirs (in french) until I get round to it.