Kulturhochhaus - Tower Block of Culture

I. IDENTIFICATION
  • Investor (key institution): ‘Socially Integrative City’ Programme, Municipality Berlin Marzahn
  • Contact person: Ms Marina Bikádi, marzahner-kinderkeller@freenet.de
  • Year of implementation: 1993/94
  • Implementation venue

  • Country: Germany
  • Region: Berlin
  • Town: Berlin-Marzahn
  • Size of area: 250000 m2
  • Impact: local

    Total costs: 57000 EUR

    Source per every institution

    • EU fonds: Information not found EUR
    • national: 45.000 EUR
    • regional: 13.000 EUR
    • other: Information not found EUR

    Important stakeholders concerned

    • national: Tourists
    • regional: Local residents (children, youths, parents, and others
    II. TYPOLOGY
    1. Improved provision of local cultural and social events.
    2. Improved involvement of the local community in events organized in its quarter.
    3. Identified new functions for structures from the era of socialism in 1945 - 1989).
    III. DESCRIPTION
    1. What forms of cooperation were used as new approaches in the field of rehabilitation and conversion of urban functional areas?
    2. An investigation, executed by a working group of the Berlin Senate, observed that the district of Marzahn was characterised by a lack of leisure activities for children and youths. . As a result it was decided to create such a space in the basement of an 11-storey high-rise building. A crucial point for the existence of the project is the partnership between the project leader, a social association called ‘Kinderring e.V., and the housing company ‘DEGEWO’ which provides the space needed for the project free of rent. This partnership can not only be regarded as a one way partnership in the sense that the housing company provides the space to the project; it is a two way partnership. The project aims to improve the well-being of the inhabitants and intents to change the image of the district, so that new apartment renters can be attracted as well. Furthermore, the housing company is allowed to use the rooms for their own purposes (e.g. mediation processes or trial living experiments).

    3. Was the building or the space between buildings) identified as a valuable socialist heritage?
    4. No. The building is one a former prefabricated high-rise that was constructed during the former GDR era. Due to the loss of population, a lot of high-rises became vacant. A lot of them were demolished, redeveloped or transformed into smaller housing units while others were used for another purpose. The ‘Tower Block of Culture is a good example for using a former residential building in a ‘new way’.

    5. What criteria were applied to make this judgment?
    6. Not applicable.

    7. Was the building or space between buildings) important to local communities and how were they involved in decision-making process about its rehabilitation or conversion?
    8. The building was a former housing block which began to become vacant because of the departure of local residents with upper income. After the Berlin Senate stated the lack of leisure activities in Berlin Marzahn, the local community was highly motivated to change the situation. Local residents, especially families with children, were involved in the project implementation right from the start and until today the project exists because of the voluntary work of many local residents. Apart from that, the café and the guest houses were implemented as requested by children and local residents. In addition to this, the volunteers decide about the programme of the Tower Block of Culture and the implementation of new projects. In the children’s basement the children decide about the programme on their own during organised child round table conferences. For the other projects – the café and the tourist apartments – team meetings are organised in order to discuss the further development of the Tower Block of Culture.

    9. Were attempts made to improve territorial cohesion within the city/town/district? And, if so, how was success on this front gauged?
    10. While the district of Marzahn North-West has a high proportion of unemployed people and people with migration background, the ‘Tower Block of Culture’ is open to everyone who wants to participate or to join one of the various offers. One aim is to reduce social exclusion and to bring people with different backgrounds together – not only local residents but also tourists and local people. By providing various social, cultural and educational activities to children and adult persons, the ‘Tower Block of Culture’ closed the gap of missing cultural events and leisure opportunities in the quarter of Marzahn North-West. Apart from that the project intents to attract Berlin tourists in order to give them the opportunity to experience life in the quarter and in a high-rise made out of concrete slabs on their own. Therefore the project offers two guest apartments, designed by children and artists.

    11. Were there attempts to reduced disparities between districts within cities/towns achieved reduced? And, if so, how was success on this front gauged?
    12. The project does not reduce spatial or architectural disparities but it improves the attractiveness of a former prefabricated high-rise as a meeting point and a house for cultural events. Due to the fact that the ‘Tower Block of Culture’ is open to everyone, it reduces social exclusion of social groups and makes a contribution to the social integration of various people living in the quarter.

    13. Other important facts and comments, e.g. critical review.
    14. The two guest houses of the Tower Block of Culture become more and more attractive for tourists from all over the world. Tourists want to get an impression of how life was going on in the former GDR and how it felt to live in a building made out of prefabricated slabs.

    IV. SUPPLEMENT

    Web site: www.kinderkeller-marzahn.de