Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online


Is “Cool Berlin” falling victim to greedy speculators who are gobbling up prime alternative scene areas of the German capital and turning them into real estate?

Perhaps nothing symbolises this fear more that the city’s East Side Gallery – a kilometre-long section of the remaining Berlin Wall covered with artists’ paintings which currently faces the likelihood of partial demolition to make way for a block of luxury flats. The threat posed by creeping gentrification has now prompted one cool Berliner to take a stand.

Christoph Klenzendorf, a 38-year-old club owner, has persuaded a Swiss investor to buy up a patch of ground in central Berlin which is to be turned into the city’s very own alternative village. “We are calling on creative people to come and launch this project, take part and give it shape. We have a chance to build something diverse and colourful” Mr Klenzendorf says. The village will contain alternative housing, allotments, art galleries, workshops, studios, a research lab specialising in resource management, a restaurant and at least one night club. Strenuous attempts have been made to give the new village project an anti-capitalist flavour.

Those who wish to take part can formally register as a village “comrade”– a term reminiscent of communist East Berlin. There is only one factor which might act as a deterrent and that is the price. It costs €25,000 (£21,000) to become a comrade. Mr Klenzendorf insists, however, that some 50 people have already signed up.