Urban gardening and (In)formality in Berlin I: Tempelhof


Source: 2009 GeoBasis-DE/BKG

by Olumuyiwa Adegun and Héctor Rojas Carreto


One of the observations emanating from the Berlin phase of the [in]formal city exchange programme; the places visited, the histories and trajectories learnt, is the spatial transformation taking place in the German capital city. Landmark phases, like the industrial revolution, Second World War, de-industrialisation, fall of the Berlin wall, global economic crunch are shaping and re-shaping spatial characteristics of the city, with an identifiable relationship between spatial metamorphoses and urban gardening. This led us to hypothesise that urban gardening is one of the expression of urban spatial transformation in Berlin, which is set in the continuum between informality and formality. To verify and expound on this claim, we spent some time co-researching the phenomenon with the cases of Prinzessinnen garden (to be discussed in ‘Urban gardening and (In)formality in Berlin 2’) and Templehof discussed here.

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The In/Formality of Protest Camps in Berlin (Part 2)

IMG-20130708-00189by Tshanda Mbuyi  and Martin Schinagl

(for part 1 see here)

We talked to several people on the three different sites: To human rights activists, a head of the Brandenburg refugee council, inhabitants of the camp, political activists and the youth group of the Gecekondu. We have found that the protests rely on very dense local networks of support including neighbours and Berliners, NGOs and political groups, which goes along with a large diversity of supporters and actors. We met people from very different origins and educational backgrounds. It seems that what unites them, is the claim for there right to stay. Be it in the neighbourhood, be it in Germany or Europe. Therefore it makes a lot of sense that form of protest is not one of marching and moving, it is one that remains in space. This has been very helpful to hear about the history and the struggle of the camp and to get insights about the people’s motivation to take part on the protest. But what has been even more striking were the findings we made during our observations. This includes the reactions towards us, the way one communicated and was willing to communicate with us as well as the interactions and modes and codes of communication between the protesters and camp dwellers, the (symbolic) language, signs and gestures that we noticed. Continue reading

The In/Formality of Protest Camps in Berlin (Part 1)

Protest Oranienplatzby Tshanda Mbuyi  and Martin Schinagl

Over the past 15 months several tents and camps have been build up in the district of Kreuzberg, Berlin, by different groups of people that protest for very different reasons and goals. Compared to what we have seen and still experience around the globe, starting with the “Arabellion” in 2011, and many other protests from Tharir square, to Bloccupy, from Brazil to Istanbul and Gezi Park we are talking about protests that are on a much much smaller scale. But what is highly symptomatic for all of them is the appropriation of prominent public spaces be it by tents or the permanent presence of protesters. The tent poses so to speak a symbol of a new form of protest that is globally recognisable, understandable and replicated. Continue reading


Neukölln by night

by Claudia Morgado and Tilman Versch

Cities are thriving urban organisms where people come together in great compactness with the aim to prosper. This population density allows for the unleashing of humanity’s creative urges. Historically, this creative and cultural production has occurred in the wake of economic and political dynamism and achievement. However in recent times cities, and parts of cities, have focused on more transient notions such as style, trend and creativity as keys to their survival and success.  This new paradigm in urban practice, planning, science and politics is now described loosely as the Creative City, the Creative Class or creative industries, which has its German equivalent in the term Kulturwirtschaft.

Within the broader frame of informality set out by the project, ‘[In]Formal City’, we chose to focus our research on these creative industries and their link to ‘citymaking’; interrogating the connectedness of formal and informal practices within a specific industry and site. We selected fashion as an industry and the Neukölln area of Berlin as our site, through which we could start understanding the diverse influences behind particular processes of formalisation. Continue reading