THE SCHILLER-KIEZ – A Creative Cluster?!

When the central airport was still operating, it always smelled of kerosine in this part of Berlin. The Schiller-Kiez in north Neukölln between Hermannstraße and airport-area ended abruptly at a kilometres-long chain-link fence, through which one could see the silhouette of the city far away beyond the airfield. Once in a while one could observe walkers, who were stunned by this view for minutes: A huge, trespassing-forbidden, field – right in the middle of Berlin.
Since the air-traffic stopped and the area opened for the public in 2008/09 everything changed: In the quarter around the Schiller-Promenade, originally a place where workers and later unemployed persons and students used to live, with old buildings in the need of renovation and low rents, now shops were setting up that you did not see there before: cafes, in which one can get a Latte Macchiato or a Club Mate, a wine store, street- and club-wares; an artsproject-room and a gallery, in front of which a English, Spanish or Italian-speaking party-crowd is standing during vernissages. Of course, on the streets you still mainly hear German-Turkish or –Polish and there are far more “Pilsator”-pubs than trendy Bars. But the face-lifting of this once so pale quarter is continuing: it is getting more colourful and lively. During summer there is an endless caravan of young model makers, kite- or inline-skaters moving between the metro-stations Boddin- and Leinestraße and the former air-field, from which one day – who knows? – some sort of Berlin Central Park may emerge; And its surrounding could be, if one follows the conceptions of real estate developers, the so called “Tempelhofer Freiheit” for higher-income earners. The sound of trolley cases on cobbled pavement already announces this new social structure, which is inevitably changing the Schiller-Kiez into an urban renovation area. If that new constellation is also going to be a creative one, depends on the interpretation of the term “freedom”.

Thomas Büsch

Filmmaker, Founding Member and Secretary General of diyalog, promotion of cultural exchange with Turkey. Since 2012 he is also project manager of InEnArt.

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