WOW magazine issue two 2015

Page 104

Berlin’s bohemian village

A Walk through Neukölln While Charlottenburg is recognized as the classy west end of Berlin, the center district of Mitte is getting increasingly glamorous. But if you prefer a raw, casual experience, the coolest neighborhood is in the southeast district of Berlin, which has grown into a bohemian village. Formerly known as Rixdorf, bohemian refugees settled in the area of Richardplatz, which is now home to restaurants, bars and cafes. It’s a sort of “last stop on the L train” from Brooklyn. by Nadja Sayej

Photo courtesy of TV Tower Berlin.

The history Neukölln is the southeast borough of Berlin, in the former American sector of the city. Thriving with hype since 2010, the same year that Berlin’s old Tempelhof Airport, which closed in 2008, opened as a public park called Tempelhofer Field, the district is quickly gentrifying as a

Tempelhof Airport. Photo courtesy of Tempelhof Airport.


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hip neighborhood with 40% immigrants in an area with a population of over 300,000. Mayor Heinz Buschkowsky wrote: “Neukölln is everywhere,” a book about multi­­culturalism. Aside from the bars on Weserstraße and the shops along Karl Marx Straße, some locations are still vacant. It still retains the rawness of its earlier years, which inspired David Bowie to write a song in 1977 about the area’s Turkish immi­­grants, but has since skyrocketed as a go-to trendy place which still offers afforda­­ble rent for artists. Creative capital KINDL Centre for Contemporary Art (Am Sudhaus 2) is set in a former KINDL Brew­­ery, which was built in the 1920s. Berlin’s Kindl beer used this brewery for 70 years before relocating to a larger facility in 2005. Now, the vintage brewery is owned by Zurichbased art collectors, Burkhard Varnholt and Salome Grisard, who bought it in 2011.

Every year, the 48 Stunden (48 Hours) Neukölln Festival, a local neighborhood art festival, showcases public art projects and late-night open doors of art galleries, bringing together the art community and the local neighborhood with people of all ages. The next one runs from June 26-28.

Roman Signer, Kitfox Experimental, 2014. Installation in KINDL’s Kesselhaus (Boiler House). Photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin, 2014.

This fall, the 5,500-square-meter space, crowned with a 38-meter-high tower, will thrive as a multi-level contemporary art center with galleries, studios and a café. Two more exhibition spaces will open along with artist studios and a café in the main brewing building. The Brew House will be home to the König Otto Café (named after the Bavarian ruler). Mediterranean fare made from organic, local products will be offered along with alcoholic beverages, including draft beer from the nearby Rollberg beer brewery, which produces a local beer available in many Berlin bars. The renovation for this privately funded space costs 6 million Euros (7.2 million CHF). That will help develop construction for three floors of exhibition space, including one gallery on the second floor with a glass ceiling. A view from the second-storey windows show the landmark TV Tower in the far distance, as rows of Neukölln butter yellow and white residential buildings line the streets. Part of the space opened in September during Berlin Art Week with an exhibition by 76-year-old Swiss artist Roman Signer. The solo show entitled “Kitfox Experimental,” features a do-ityourself Kitfox airplane hanging from a 20-meter-high ceiling by one cord. It runs until June 28. Nearby, the Agora Café and Restaurant (Mittelweg 50) is a project space for the creative with a great café on the main floor

Agora Café and Restaurant. Photo: Nadja Sayjej