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  • Day268

    Day 269: Berlin Modernist Housing Estate

    November 10, 2017 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 5 °C

    Greeted this morning by another cold, overcast day. I think that's just the way it is in this city - apparently November gets about 30 hours of sunshine per month! Today's plan was to visit the Berlin Modernist Housing Estates - a modern architecture WH site scattered around the outskirts of the city. In the process of rebuilding and stimulating the economy after WW1, many many apartment buildings were constructed - often with fancy and cutting edge modernist architecture.

    First stop was actually only about 10 minutes walk away, so we headed over to check it out. The buildings are low-rise, mostly white-washed, but with splashes of colour on the window frames, railings, doors etc. Reminded us quite a bit of the Rietveld-Schroder House we'd visited in Utrecht a few months prior. Looked around and filmed, then hopped on a train to the west of the city and visited two more housing complexes.

    Similar designs, though different in minor ways. I will confess, sites like these are when you realise it's a list of important heritage, not particularly a tourist list. To the untrained eye you could easily walk past these buildings a hundred times and not notice anything special about them - and I include myself in that! I guess they had an impact across the world on public housing design, since German architecture was on the rise at the time in the late 20s and early 30s.

    It's interesting to note as well that public housing is very common here. Home ownership just isn't particularly a thing, and neither is the whole "let's get rich in the property market" either. Most people just rent for their entire lives, and of course the government provides very strong protections for renters as well. Unlike the hyper-capitalist "if you don't like it, just buy your own house" attitude in Australia and the US. I don't really know why it's different - just that little bit more socialist I guess.

    Finished up our filming and had a look around the Wedding district since that's where we were. I'd read a few things suggesting it was the hipster central of Berlin, but really it just seemed poor and down-and-out. Later conversations with locals clarified that every few years people convince themselves that Wedding is going to be the hot new thing, but it's never really panned out that way. Strange.

    So we grabbed some lunch in a shopping mall (Shandos had sushi and I had Subway), then we headed home to have an afternoon off. It'd been a long day yesterday, so figured we'd chill out and have a half-day today. Got a couple of videos done which was nice.

    In the evening we headed out near our apartment - went to a really highly rated dumpling restaurant with fancy gourmet vegetarian dumplings, then followed it up with a drink at a cocktail bar. I lashed out and paid 6 euros for a gin & tonic - definitely not in central Europe any more!
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    Trish Forrester

    Definitely unremarkable!