Posts Tagged 'urban village'

…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!

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!’

Berlin, the anxious punk…

Now that’s what I call a well-documented analysis. The Irish Times reports on Berlin, the fractured metropolis. The anxious punk?

Graveyard of ambitions?

A collection of individuals pursuing their interesting paths outside national ghettos?

A local management culture difficult to grasp?

A city attracting people who don’t know what to do next?

Or a place where – if you know what you want and fight for it in an equally disciplined way as you would do in Paris or London – you can find an unparalleled quality of living (after gray-sky vaccination)?

Find out…

The fractured metropolis?

THE IRISH IN BERLIN

Is Berlin a capital of creativity, as the hype would have you believe, or rather a slacker’s paradise, where every day is a Saturday? DEREK SCALLY talks to some Irish immigrants who have managed to forge careers there.

JOHN LENNON ONCE remarked that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. For many Irish, the German capital is a place they never intended to make their home but, to stretch Lennon’s logic, they have found Berlin to be a fine spot to live while making other arrangements.

Continue reading ‘Berlin, the anxious punk…’

Boring, tedious, envious or just plain lazy?

“Gentrification has hit Prenzlauer Berg at a speed unmatched even by the most tarted-up quarters of other European capitals. Ninety per cent of the district’s apartments have been vacated by their original East German inhabitants since the Wall’s fall. They have been replaced by a generation of young Germans who have arrived as rich invaders from the West. The standing joke in Prenzlauer Berg is that the borough is populated exclusively by Swabians from wealthy south-western Germany. Like most jokes, it contains an element of truth”.

This morning I found this article on my virtual shore, the Google tide brought it from The Independent.

A flavor on the pros and cons of gentrified Prenzl’berg. A panoramique on the former-DDR Länder demographic, economic and neo-nazi problems. All in all not so original. Frankly, I expected something better from the Independent. This piece feels stale, like a “Panorama” article, full of clichés and made of rechauffé themes.

Or is it just envious? To me, the british society doesn’t seem so “full or harmony” or heavenly homogeneous in terms of economic and social opportunities. Heathrow airport or some stops of the Tube don’t even evoke “poor but sexy” thoughts like some rusty rail platforms in OstBerlin. And there was never an iron curtain in between Putney and Islington.

If you want to read articles criticizing Germany, read the German press…it’s more interesting. Be it on the debate on prams in Prenzl’berg. Or the unemployment rate in Mecklemburg. Or Rostock gangs. Or the Swabian invasion.

Continue reading ‘Boring, tedious, envious or just plain lazy?’

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!

the haberdashery factor

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“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”.

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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’

Urban farming: Li Edelkoort was late

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After Naomi Klein’s “No logo”, are we heading for a “No guru” era?

Since the 90s we’ve been reading more and more about these so-called “cool-hunters” or “trend-gurus”. Those who stitch up trend books and if we buy a lime-green pullover next week it is because 3 years ago they found out that lime evocates purity and freshness and we would crave that at some point in the distant future.

On the Elle Decoration – and other magazines I browsed through in the trains and planes of the last few days – the trend-guru Edelkoort goes about saying that now people want countryside in the cities. Crise oblige.

I’m sorry but this has always been the case in “provincial and poor Berlin”. Berliners understood ages ago how important is to have real countryside in town.

As the italian writer Alessandra Montrucchio wrote nicely in her book “Berlin”, especially West Berlin after WWII had to recreate within the boundaries of the encircled town the seaside, the woods, the countryside, even the “mountains”.

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Now countryside in town seem to be the must-have for milanese penthouses, Primrose Hill windowboxes, Chelsea faux-accessible squares. For Berliners, it’s the reality in many Kiez. It is not the ultimate expression of elitism, only for the few,  but the democratic accessible green shore of the Spree in the Regierungsviertel, the summer Tiergarten grill or the tai-chi lesson in the Volkspark across the street.

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So, Li Edelkoort was late.

Berlin, trend-resistant, is above trends.  It literally bathes in sound, Birkenstock-sturdy common sense…

PS
on this topic also check Metapolis

photos: StripedCat


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