Posts Tagged 'Bayerisches Viertel'

…and here are the flats!

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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!

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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!’

gazing through green glass

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For some reason I am attracted to green glass. Not broken Heineken bottles, which sometimes on friday nights you can find right on your bike track in Berlin. I find watching light filtering through green glass mesmerizing.

Countless green tumblers are in our roman cupboards. And plates, of a nice emerald green. To me, drinking fresh tap water (great in Rome) in a green glass makes it even more refreshing.

And then I love books. And bookshelves. And Berlin’s green forests and lakes.

The consequence is pretty obvious. I fell for green glass also in Berlin.

My first finding was this pretty kitsch fruit-bowl, now detournée en vide-poches, bought with the objective to force myself to put keys, USB-key, purse, phone, japanese note pad and S-bahn tickets all in the same place. In a new flat it is just so easy to disseminate key objects (keys!) around and forget them since there is not yet a gravitational law of essentials. Two euros, at my favorite russian flea market. DDR design for the masses. The (other) lives of objects.

Once again, I admit it’s quite fleuri but you are now familiar with my personal theory on “occasional splashes of color – giving the mood of the season – costing next to nothing – and which have a practical use”. Fruit bowl, key bowl, you name it.

The second finding…you will find out about in August! It has something to do with a previous post on Salone del Mobile bookshelves, love for crafted items (like those DDR benches),  green glass  of course…and with a little help from our Viktoria-Luise-Platz friends!

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…

More on Altbau: Berlin article in DOVE Case

After the Il Sole 24 Ore supplement, also the patinatissimo DOVE magazine dedicates a special section to Berlin beautiful flats. Once again, I think this is only a partial point of view of what one can find in Berlin…but it’s worth having a look…

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Check it out on the Speciale Centro Storico link…The high ceilings, the Eiche parquets, the stucco well represent the Altbau we love. As per the information on flats, normally Expose’ contain more info, so consider that just an excerpt of what you would normally receive from your Makler.

On the same magazine, in the Archive, you can find an article on house boats in Berlin (there are also a couple of hotels like that, I’ve been told by friends!).

And, after Zehlendorf and the 50s, the Aufbau-style, some material about living in a Plattenbauten 70s flat….bof bof…

Well. This is all very nice and informative. Now back to old, dear Schoeneberg! 😀

Our Berlin Wall is coming down!

It’s time to tear down our Berlin Wall! The paper-thin walls built after WWII in our 1914 Altbau must go! They alter the original plan of The Flat and we want to restore the prussian beauty of the magnificient ceiling (almost 4m) and boiseries.

We have checked the materials: the big walls are very sound, the ceiling structure is very traditional and is in pristine condition, it looks as it was put together yesterday, with its bamboo light structure. That one is going to stay there. The ugly 70s plastic fake wood ceiling cover is going.

Also the beautiful old oak parquet is ok and is definitely going to stay. The heavy iron heating system is fabulous…as the arched window is one of the reasons why we bought this flat…but first of all, let’s get rid of those walls added 60 years ago…

Renovierung, ristrutturazione, refurbishing!

Today there is an interesting article on Deutsche Welle, about an italo-german pair refurbishing flats in Prenzl’berg on a big scale. It’s all about mixing Prussia and italian style, affordable prices in Berlin and entrepreneurial flair. It’s also about a lot of money, and a lot of property.

On a much smaller scale over the next weeks Mein Mann and I will start working on the refurbishment of The Flat. We now have The Project, we need to understand exactly the operational details, order the materials in Berlin (shop locally!) and off we go.

We did our share of number crunching, magazine-reading, scenario-building now we’ve got to start. Also because…the Wohngeld is running! So, we’re reassured of the fact that:

– YES, it was a good idea to buy a flat in Berlin, the price was right and the value was great;

– YES, with the present market turmoil it is even a better idea to invest a bit of extra money in refurbishing The Flat and bringing it to extert its full potential, in the beautiful Kiez;

– YES, in these uncertain times, with such negative newsflow, it is nice to be working on a HARDWARE project, in parallel with those daily worries (inflation, bad news, economic meltdown und so weiter).

One year ago we were emotionally in the no-man’s-land in between our August enthousiastic scouting trip to Berlin (cum-badly-failed-attempt to buy a flat), and the November trip to the Hauptstadt, when Mein Mann found the hidden gem, The Flat.

So we were floating in that lukewarmish atmosphere. We had invested all our holidays on the project. We were disappointed by the first unsuccessful attempt. But we were determined to get over it and be proud owners of our flat by Christmas. We signed our contract on December 20th!

Sometimes in between signing the contact and paying the price/getting the ownership of the flat a few MONTHS can elapse, rather than a few weeks, and that was indeed the case for us. A bit frustrating but worth waiting. After getting the possession of the keys and of The Flat, we’ve been paying taxes to the Finanzamt, opened a bank account, set up utility accounts, have the project prepared and now we’ve just to sign an insurance contract, then the refurbishing can start.

Needless to say we’ve seen many many other flats in the meantime. That is always a lateral and nosy way of visiting the town, plus it’s a very useful exercise. Each time we were reassured on the price-quality relationship of what we had bought. That is a nice feeling indeed. Especially when you’re still facing costs and no revenues yet are flowing in your hands.

We think we “prüften die Angebote sehr genau und pickten uns aus den vielen Objekten am Markt die Rosinen heraus“, we had done our homework, carefully analyzed the market, and cherry-picked successfully.

If you are interested in buying a flat in Berlin, go and see as many flats and as many Kiez as you can. This is the best way to find really what you are looking for. Exercise your personal Guts Feeling, endure a few disappointments, get a feel for the Sense of Place and stick with your list of criteria. Be they sultanas or cherries, you will find the ones you are looking for.

That said, we’re no real estate magnates like the Stoffel or fashion heirs like the Stefanel, but we have an idea or two about refurbishing without destroying. Leveraging hidden beauty without arm-twisting the sense of place.

We want to make the prussian linear beauty of the The Flat blossom, it’s concealed behind a few post-war thin postiche walls, hideous wallpapers and plastic flooring but you can feel it’s definitely there. Yet The Flat must also feel contemporary, and user-friendly too. And the costs must remain down to earth.

Coherence is our guiding muse: with the Altbau, the Kiez, the history of the Bayerisches Viertel, our own taste…and our budget.


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