Places and People in Berlin IV: Don Xuan Centre in Lichtenberg

The entrance to the Don Xuan Centre

The entrance to the Don Xuan Centre

by Claudia Morgado

Dong Xuan, meaning ‘Spring Meadow’, is a commercial development to the East of the Berlin centre in Lichtenberg containing 8 large halls offering wholesale goods to private traders as well as the public. The site is being further developed to include more commerce and wholesale halls, housing, further social amenities and tourist attractions, and which is marketed by the management as a place for Trade, Culture and Tourism in Berlin. Continue reading

Places and People in Berlin III: Reusing formal industral Buildings

At ExRotaprint

At ExRotaprint

by Trusha Mitha and Tebogo Ramatlo

De –Industrilazation: exRotaprint

A former industrial building by Klaus Kirsten the architect is now a space of artistic expression and skills development. Artists were allowed to inhabit these old buildings and since there were no more industries and workshops. There was an uncertainty about the ownership of these estates and when artists showed value in these spaces – property prices went up.The building now employs new functions namely, language classes, carpenter workshops, office spaces, artist studios and metal workers – they all have a creative core and dock on other industries.The informality of the development, is the way in which the the whole compound developed, how artists that took initiative to finance a project that was not found feasible by higher authorities. Continue reading

Places and People in Berlin II: Uplifting Berlin’s Neighbourhoods and the Informality therein

Gropiustadt

Gropiustadt

by Olumuyiwa Adegun and Gert van der Merwe

Neighbourhood, as an aggregation of dwellings into a sizeable, distinct spatial unit and socially connected area do experience decay, deprivation and disadvantage. Deliberate efforts towards the delivery and coordination of core civic and community services in such areas represent what neighbourhood management (NM) entails. These conditions and the strands of informality therein came to fore in the tour of some neighbourhoods in the Neukolln borough of Berlin. Continue reading

Places and people in Berlin

At Prinzessinengärten in Berlin-Kreuzberg

At Prinzessinengärten in Berlin-Kreuzberg

by Tshanda Mbuyi (text), Jhono Bennett and Nicolette Pingo (photos)

Coming from South Africa to Berlin and trying to understand what informality means in such different contexts was a hard task. Some issues, which would generally not be considered a crisis in South Africa, were taken so seriously here, so that we came to realize that even though the problems we face in South Africa are more visible and  probably more urgent the need for individuals to feel that they can claim a stake and participate freely to the construction of the society in which they live, is the ultimate test by which we judge its inclusiveness, its humanity. Here are three projects in Berlin that we think best illustrate this: Continue reading