Make City 2018

By chance I came across the international festival for architecture and urban alternatives in Berlin Make City 2018. The city of Berlin has been determined by change for years. The opportunity to get an insight into the process of collecting ideas, of making things different, but also into already existing visionary building projects such as the Hufeisensiedlung, was exciting.

Although I am not an architect or urban planner, I think that everyone should have an interest in it, because how a city is structured and built from its core has a great influence on our daily lives. But most of the time we don’t notice it.

Perhaps I could also justify my interest in having similar tasks and goals as a user interface designer: To design and develop processes without disturbing or negatively influencing users in their actual objectives.

Day 1: Whose city is it?

A lecture by the Argentine architect Flavio Janches (architect, BJC Architects / University of Buenos Aires) dealt with the attempt to rewire a Favela in order to raise the quality of life in that neighbourhood through public cultural and sport-related offers.

Although one might think that people would have shown a positive reaction towards the intention and ideas of the architect, the recording of the actual state of the organically grown place and its structures was already adventurous: Each ethnographic group has its territory according to nationality and invisible guarded borders for the outsider. To give an example of the effect of this division of the areal, various marketplaces were created, one for each nationality and without international exchange amongst them.

In order to break up the rigid division and release new synergies, the architect planned various cultural institutions at different locations throughout the entire area. He did not apply a classical approach, but a fragmented and decentralized one. Walls and border marks as well as the resulting paths were to be broken up by connecting these individual parcels and leading to a positive flow of energy across the Favela. Since each district has a different cultural attraction, such as a basketball court, library or children’s playground, the boundaries within the Favela should be loosened.

A big advantage of this approach is that, depending on the amount of donations, individual smaller projects can be realized and not a huge expensive block is placed in the middle, which may never be accepted. If a segment does not work in the north of the area, you can move it to the south and test the resonance, react if necessary and change the planning.

However, as with any public institution, the problem arises that people do not value and care for it because it does not belong directly to them. So these new facilities can only survive if someone else takes care of them, such as the state. But to include them in a favela can be a difficult task. Also one cannot control how places are used and which developments this brings with it. To give an example: More and more dealers met at the children’s playground to win new customers. It remains to be hoped that the people together develop a common new goal like in this case the security of your children and unite.


Eventlink: Urban talk 1: Whose city is it


Event 2: A Visit to Berlin’s Wholesale Market

After the 2nd World War, the market moved to its present location on Beusselstrasse in 1965. Since there were few resources in the administration after the war, the market was left to self-organization. Until today medium-sized companies manage this market, some of whose families are already connected to it in the 5th generation.

The entire area has a range of 32 football pitches and during the day it appears quiet and deserted on the edge of the Mitte district, near the Moabit housing estate. A local resident who took part in the tour said she had never set foot on it before. This is probably due to the nature of a wholesale market designed for B2B trading as well as the rush hours of the market, which are from 11pm to 5am. So the market seems deserted during the day. Even politicians who visited the market at 9 o’clock in the morning doubted the profitability of the place for this reason.

So the question is raised: What other uses are there for such a large area in the middle of the city?

A market in Istanbul could serve as a model. There, a chime will indicate when the market is open to the public and the wholesalers will withdraw. In this way, the space can be optimally used 24 hours a day by all parts of the population.

A vision of the operators of the Fruchthalle would also be the possibility of direct processing of the fruit and vegetables on the premises into products such as jam, which could be sold directly on the market accessible to Berliners.

At the moment there are only a few points of contact between the wholesale market and the Berlin public, such as the Berliner Tafel, which also has its warehouse, sorting and distribution facilities on the site.

One of the speakers was a co-organiser of Markthalle 9 in Kreuzberg. He also can imagine a cooperation between Markthalle 9 and the wholesale market. He would like see that the focus is once again set on strengthening the local and middle class economy in order to be able to compete against wholesale suppliers such as Amazon Fresh.

Eventlink: A Visit to Berlin’s Wholesale Market


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