Posts Tagged 'Retail-free'

the haberdashery factor


“The ideal neighborhood” is the most visited page of this blog, since ever. I guess this has to do with the fact that we all long for finding some sort of village-like harmony (but not flatness). Among the points of the ideal place there is the sense of community, call it “no big retail chains around” or “feeling safe in your whereabouts”.


I quite liked Mr Brule’ s article comparing Lisbon, with its ancient haberdashery and grocery-style beauty stores, with Notting Hill no man’s land in the making. Continue reading ‘the haberdashery factor’

at last…Monocle talks about Berlin!


Monocle Weekly – February 1st 2009

With these grey and rainy sundays IN ROME it is a pleasure to listen to Monocle’s Weekly radio broadcast, at lunchtime.

This week Mr Brule’ and guests discuss about innovative, small-scale shops …and that’s in Berlin.

And also, about innovation in printed media, guess where…in Berlin, again.

With the crisis beating into cookie-cutter big-scale operations, sustainable models like Berlin win. As per our Ideal Neighborhood list…

The Ideal Neighbourhood List of Criteria

Every morning we would wake up early, pack in our Falk folding paper-navigator, camera, get fuel at one of the excellent breakfast watering-holes in Kreuzberg, and walk a new Kiez. The night before we would have looked up ads and expose’ in order to focus our day on a specific area (remember…Berlin is big!)…for the reality check you must hit the streets.

Little by little our informal list of criteria would emerge. Something she would say, something he would say.

1. Transportation: the Kiez should be connected to the ring formed S-Bahn line S4 and have U- and S-bahn station at hand. You should feel comfortable and safe in your whereabouts.

2. Low noise and pollution: big Autobahn junctions or 6-lanes streets come in handy… or lie just a little bit too close? Berlin is bike-friendly, but distance matters! How is the metro-bike-foot mix?

3. Green areas: green is beautiful or mineral Paris-style is charming? In Berlin Green is MANDATORY!

4. Retail. That’s a nasty one. You want to quickly fetch a bottle of milk, croissants or a bar of soap in a 5-minute-walk radius from home. Still visual pollution from overwhelming chains and inevitable social desertification are a risk. So you want to be in an area rich in local shopkeepers, cafes & bakeries, grocers and a good doner kebab outlet. If you also find:

a) a flower shop, a bookshop

b) a couple of cosy restaurants, “die gemütliche Kneipe, die zu guten Gesprächen animiert”

c) a pet food store

d) more than one hairdresser

chances are that you are snooping around in a very lively neighbourhood. If there is also a

e) Fahrrad station (bycicle shop and repair) then…bingo!

You definitely do not need fast fashion and underwear outlets, american coffee chains selling marketing instead of macchiato, mobile phone pushers or optician supermarkets under your windows!

5. Playgrounds for children are great in Berlin and you will regularly find them like a dotted line around town.

6. A farmers’ market is a fantastic asset, so look out for those!

7. Water. Berlin is very green and very…liquid. The city is no longer turning her back to her rivers and canals, which are now object of much-needed attention. Living near the water is always such a pleasure for the eyes!

8. A village feeling. Is there something like a “piazza” where at different times of the day people transit for different reasons (market, cafes, garden, playground), and that IS NOT A MALL? This sort of piazza generates a feeling of community, security and ultimately, creates the village.

If then, the day of Germany-Turkey you spot flags on the balconies in equal proportion, it’s just perfect!

Well, this list came up little by little, en arpentant la ville, however for a scientific approach you can check out the very exhaustive Monocle list here:—Ideal-world

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