Archive for the 'Kiez' Category

3 years later…

Three years have gone by since we bought our flat in Berlin (the first one).

What happened in the meantime?

On a parallel street a new building in neo-bauhaus style has just been built. Prices for these new properties vary from 3,500 to 5,000 Eur per square meter. Well, there is so much real estate worth renewing in Berlin that new buildings could be avoided, right…still the prices tells something about the direction the market has taken in Berlin during the crisis.

The construction company who carryed over the refurbishing of our flat is always as busy. Business did not slow down for them, they are excellent craftsmen after all. Refurbishing of existing buildings in the Kiez carries on, both on Wilmersdorf’s side and on Kreuzberg’s side.

The Kiez has not over-gentrified in the meantime, and that is good. Across the townhall I’ve spotted a new patisserie and the smith has gone. But maybe he was not a good smith after all…his store was always closed, the service was a bit patchy.

The Kiez did not become fashionable, there are no fancy boutiques and we still have all our bakeries, delightful independent bookstores and stationery shops.

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…and 60s armchairs chez nous in Berlin

We’ve been looking for a suitable armchair for more than a year. Now we’ve found it. An original Soloform piece of 1953, designed by Albrecht Lange and Hans Mitzlaff for Schmitt, which from time to time appears at auctions around the globe.

It’s efficient: no excess of material, just what’s needed to be comfortable. It’s light: I carried it upstairs to the 4th floor. It’s ergonomic and perfect for reading a book, a newspaper or an iPad. It’s beautiful…and its linden-tree green (washable) upholstering is just the color I wanted. Recycled in Berlin!

AflatinBerlin on air!

If you understand Italian and want to know more about buying a flat in Berlin, listen to the interview on the Italiansonline WebRadio…please don’t laugh 😀

Click here and get to the mid on the streaming.

Living in a vintage gas station, in Schoeneberg

Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

Have a look at the fabulous article by the New York Times on a very lateral-thinking renovation: from gas station to apartment-cum-art-gallery!

Actually, I remember seeing an Aral gas station teamed up with a bar/restaurant at Schlesisches Tor U-bahn station, close to Club der Visionäre. I wonder if it is seasonal or open all year round…have to check it out.

The full article can be found on the New York Times website together with a beautiful slide show. An excerpt of the article follows.

In Berlin, a renovated gas station

by KIMBERLY BRADLEY

Continue reading ‘Living in a vintage gas station, in Schoeneberg’

…and here are the flats!

color kitchen

It took some time, to refurbish them, to stitch up proper mini-websites, but eventually here they are. Click on the links on the right…

The 1920s flat has a surface of only 54 square meters – plus a mezzanine! – and is located in a beautiful Altbau. The 1960s flat is cuddly, only 30 square meters but its location is magic!

Both are located in the Bayerisches Viertel in Schöneberg…our ideal neighborhood!

One year later…1 candle on the cake!

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One year ago we started this blog. Two main reasons: to report about our “flat in Berlin” experience. And to keep track of our renovation adventure, which had just started and needed a bit of a public kick – an official timekeeper online!

One year later, we are going to spend soon our first ever real holiday in our flat in Berlin, having dedicated 1/4 of our weekends in the past 12 months to blitz-trips to Berlin in order to follow the renovation works, sort out paperwork, choose tiles, buy furniture and make the flat feel like our home in Berlin.

One year later, and 3/4 of a global financial crisis later, we’re happy about our choice. It is true, other real estate markets plunged so deep that now there are several “cheap” real estate markets in the world. But we were not just looking for a bottom-fishing real estate opportunity, we wanted something very specific: an apartment with good bones in Schöneberg at a reasonable price, not a seaside flat in Spain or a maisonette in England. In the meantime, garage prices in Rome plunged by 3%. Maybe the Italian real estate market will undergo a correction one day, but the reality is, a 1-car garage in Rome still costs more than a flat in one of the nicest areas of Berlin. Period. Continue reading ‘One year later…1 candle on the cake!’

Neoclassicism, Historicism, Jugendstil…and maybe Art deco?

The Flat was built in 1914…not yet Bauhaus time, not yet Art Deco…still Jugenstil and not far from Neoclassicism.. There is a Jugendstil flavour in the external stuccos, but if the building’s structure is definitely massive Neoclassicism – Historicism without organic indulgence.

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Bauhaus hadn’t arrived yet: no flat roof, no big glass windows, no bare shapes, on the contrary…our roof is pretty pointy, very bavarian, I suppose? (Bayerisches Viertel oblige!).

Yet you can perceive it was built during a sort of transition phase, in which organic decoration and redundant shapes left space to purer lines. There were more Modern Times in the air. Skirts were getting shorter, too.

Maybe it is easier to compare our beloved Altbau with sibling buildings born in the same years. Thanks to the fantastic Berlin Architecture Guide we discovered many interesting stories. For instance, the Flat falls in the same generation of the KaDeWe building…(and in the same area, as well).cimg0049

It’s Prussian and massive…at the time of building quite an exploit.

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Another masterpiece of the days just before WWI is the U-bahn 4, and its magnificient stations! This one is Rathaus Schoeneberg, the prettiest in town and one of the first…at the time of construction its name was Stadtpark Schoeneberg, you can still see the old name in mosaic letters.

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Here we are in 100%  Schoeneberg treasure territory…The U-bahn connecting the Schoeneberg village to Berlin was built for ladies to go to KaDeWe shopping in an Augenblick!

This is the only station in Berlin from which you can admire ducks diving and herons fishing while waiting for the tube inside the cozy french-window tunnel. A tunnel with a view…an U-bahn with windows…that’s Industriekultur…pragmatism plus beauty.

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Hum…almost Art Deco-ish, isn’t it?

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Yes…the form is definitely following the function…this pillar is beautifully crafted, yet it is definitely a pillar, no useless iron with bolts. We’re definitely in the era of Industriekultur, when technology had still a craftmanship soul and craftsmen and ironsmiths had branding power. Do visit the Museum of Technology and you will dive into railway beauty! But let’s not part from the lane of this post…

The U-bahnlinie 4 was built around 1908, it is just 2,9 km long, and MeinMann and I call it “our own private underground”. Viktoria-Louise Platz station (and square) are also beautiful, and one wonders how nice Bayerisches Platz had to be at the time of construction…sadly now a lot must be left to imagination due to bombings during WWII…it was a beauty in 1935.

Well, let’s get to the terminus station, Nollendorfplatz, the station with a fancy hat! In front of the station there is another Neoclassical-almost Art Deco building, constructed more or less in the same pre-pre-war years, the Goya…I really have to get this book by Susanne Twardawa about Nollendorfplatz…it’s a Kiez full of history and central in the Berlin history.

I try to visualize those building sites, in between 1908 and 1914…a new neighbourhood in the making, modern U-bahn systems, and a brand new cafe’ and shopping district to serve the new citizens…


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