• Germany edition
 
BMW and Guggenheim scared off Berlin project
A bridge too far - Kreuzberg, Berlin. Photo: DPA

BMW and Guggenheim scared off Berlin project

Published: 20 Mar 2012 13:48 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Mar 2012 13:48 GMT+01:00

The BMW Guggenheim Lab, which is on a tour of cities around the globe, had been scheduled to arrive on a vacant lot in the German capital in May for a two-month stint before continuing to Mumbai.

But organisers pulled the plug on the project in the Kreuzberg district, a BMW spokesman said, after several threats attributed to residents who are angry that it could contribute to rent increases in the area.

"We're not leaving Kreuzberg because of protests but because of the high threat level determined by the police, the threat of violence" the spokesman, Thomas Girst, said.

The Guggenheim added in a statement: "The Foundation regrets having to make this decision, as the purpose of the BMW Guggenheim Lab is to create a space for public discussion, open to the widest possible range of views.

"While we welcome vigorous debate, we cannot risk the possibility of violence, as raised by a small minority."

Girst said it was not immediately clear whether the Lab would move to another district or have to cancel the Berlin leg of the tour entirely.

The BMW Guggenheim Lab, which calls itself a forum to discuss urban architecture, technology and sustainability, plans to visit nine cities in six years.

Its opening in New York last August also met with anti-gentrification protests.

Kreuzberg, one of the capital's central districts, has traditionally been home to a lively German scene of left-leaning political activists and artists alongside a large Turkish and Arab population.

After years of hype around areas in the former communist east, Kreuzberg has seen a revival in recent years and in 2011 saw the biggest increase in average apartment rental prices in the city, according to local statistics.

Opponents of the project said in a statement online that they feared the development of the lot on the banks of the Spree river would drive the gentrification of the area.

"The so-called 'Lab' is a rotten image project by the conservative corporation BMW and will mean increasingly rising rents in the neighbourhood as well as the de facto privatisation of the property and was of course planned without any participation of the residents," they said.

The investors who own the prime slab of real estate have said they later plan to erect office buildings and hotels there.

Berlin ranks as one of Europe's most affordable cities but has seen a sharp rise in rents since the Wall fell in 1989.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

14:40 March 20, 2012 by vonSchwerin
Why even bother with Kreuzberg? It seems that the residents there -- at least the loudest and most visible among them -- want to live in a run-down, dirty, graffiti-ridden, but cheap urban neighborhood where no one is allowed to talk about gentrification, modern urban renewal, or capitalist economics.
16:00 March 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Would be better placed in Mitte or Prenzlauerberg where Gentrification has taken place and people are happy to have it. Let the left-wing losers to themselves until they eventually fall through the rotten wooden floors of their apartments.
16:18 March 20, 2012 by derExDeutsche
Don't be too hopeful, Berlin fuer! When they fall through, they'll blame you, and you and make you pay for the new floors. The Greens will make sure of that. and Sustainably harvested Hardwoods only, please. Just don't get mad or they'll wonder; ' Where is your compassion?' and call you some names. Oh. fun!
17:39 March 20, 2012 by OkieinBerlin
yes, it's a terrible thing when people -- that is, "the loudest and most visible," defend their property from money-grubbing opportunists.
17:53 March 20, 2012 by wires
The previous three commentators haven't much of an idea about the "run-down, dirty, graffiti-ridden, but cheap urban neighborhood" that has been attracting record numbers of tourists, who enjoy the neighborhoods made attractive by the older and newer inhabitants. There are many long-year organizations already here who "talk about gentrification, modern urban renewal, or capitalist economics". Just last summer, there were a series of open discussions with the district mayor, that led to no results. The non-binding majority vote in regard to the use of the Spree River banks is being cast aside little by little by private interests and weak politicians.

The "Lab" had no intention of offering anything new, much less, serve as a forum developed from a grassroots level. I've been living in Wrangelkiez more than 20 years and know first hand that the "Lab" won't take place not because of a few "radicals", but for the fact that the organizers could find no enthusiastic support even among moderate groups.
17:59 March 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
@Wires. This previous commentator has been living in Prenzlauerberg since 1996 and knows far more about the subject that you give credit for. Having lived in a run down coal-oven heated apartment and had to walk up and down a negligently dangerous staircase long before the words gentrification were even understood in Berlin, I am now very happy to live in a modernised safe building even if it does cost more. I notice far more tourists now also since things have been brightened up and renovated.
18:37 March 20, 2012 by wires
@Berlin für alles: Beyond latching on to "who's lived where longer" in my comment, the main title of the "Lab" is "Confronting Comfort", an interesting topic, anyone or group w/o corporate management oversight can deal with by him/ herself.
02:03 March 21, 2012 by derExDeutsche
'an interesting topic, anyone or group w/o corporate management oversight can deal with by him/ herself. '

but no w/o Government assistance?
07:19 March 21, 2012 by wires
Government assistance: wikipedia,for starters...

"Dabei wird unter anderem auf die Subventionen in Millionenhöhe hingewiesen, mit denen zugezogene Unternehmen, wie zum Beispiel MTV und Universal Music, vom Berliner Senat unterstützt wurden. Zudem wird es als unlogisch empfunden, dass der Senat den Bau der O₂ World begrüßte und finanziell unterstützte, obwohl in Berlin kein Mangel an Veranstaltungshallen bestand. Nachdem der Basketballverein Alba Berlin seine Heimspiele in die O2 World verlegte, muss die mangelnde Auslastung seiner ehemaligen Heimspielstätte, der Max-Schmeling-Halle in Prenzlauer Berg, nun wiederum durch öffentliche Subventionen ausgeglichen werden."
08:30 March 21, 2012 by Michael R
Kreuzberg is chalk full of leftist loonies and credit card communists, that cant seem to wait to give you their oh so trendy opinions.

Gentrification is a natural process in most cities across the developed world.
12:06 March 21, 2012 by Navigator_B
Gentrification is great for people who can work in luxurious offices and can afford to live in expensive appartments. It's not so great people who have lived all their lives in places like Kreuzberg but who are forced by higher rents to move out to Soviet era high-rise appartment blocks in places like Lichtenberg.  
14:59 March 21, 2012 by frankiep
Sounds like basically the lefties are upset because they are afraid of rents getting higher and not have the money and/or jobs to afford it, so they have decided that the best way to deal with this is by continuing to live in dilapidated and decaying buildings and chasing away any potential investors which would bring more money and possibilities to their neighborhoods. Brilliant!

These are most likely the same sort of people who complain about the "1 percent" keeping them down without even realizing that the "1 percent" are the ones here who want to invest in their neighborhoods.
15:39 March 21, 2012 by vonSchwerin
@wires

I have plenty of idea about Kreuzberg. I have lived for several years in Schöneberg, including on the Rote Insel, which is immediately adjacent to your workers' and artists' paradise. There are plenty of times when I go to Kreuzberg for work or to visit friends, and I am glad that I don't live there.
17:23 March 21, 2012 by Navigator_B
There's nothing wrong with refurfishment in itself. Apart from creating employment, it should actually drive rents down by increasing the supply of good accomodation. 

The reason that rents go up in some areas is not just because of refurfishment but because of "location, location, location" when an area that becomes trendy. The fact that other people have lived there all their lives doesn't count for anything against the financial power of rich people and corporations who want to move in.
21:46 March 21, 2012 by frankiep
Contrary to increasingly popular belief, a person is not rich simply because he has more money than someone else. In this case these "rich" people moving in are the same ones who will be spending more money and directly or indirectly increasing the overall wealth of the neighborhood.

Social conservatives are (rightfully) mocked and ridiculed for wanted everything to remain the way it was in the 1950s. Well, the same logic applies here.
07:12 March 22, 2012 by Barnel
In a democracy nobody should be afraid from threats. That's why we have police and security

Good articles on www.ariespost.com
11:49 March 22, 2012 by AlexR
Talking about a storm in a teacup. Even the worst house/flat in Kreuzberg or Berlin is an average or even good house/flat in London or Paris. Not to mention that in London or Paris you will pay up to 5 times more rent for the same quality/space/facilities.
21:40 March 22, 2012 by Sayer
Beware Berlin....there be dragons!
22:37 March 24, 2012 by AxelSchultze
While very sad on the surface, it may be one of the key experiences for the project.

The experience is threefold:

1) The fear for a serious socioeconomic shift is very real and clearly expressed.

2) Methods of communication TO and audience may not resonate WITH the audience

3) A project FOR the population should be done WITH the population

I hope the incident has a real learning effect and is not ignored or even arrogantly pushed aside like some of the comments here
Today's headlines
Four Germans on missing Air Algérie flight
A Swiftair flight Photo: EPA/SWIFTAIR / HANDOUT BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE

Four Germans on missing Air Algérie flight

UPDATE: Four Germans were among the 116 people onboard a Air Algérie flight which crashed over Mali on Thursday, according to the airline which operated flight number AH5017. READ  

Munich midwife 'tried to kill pregnant mums'
The hospital in Munich where the midwife worked. Photo: DPA

Munich midwife 'tried to kill pregnant mums'

A midwife in Munich stands accused of trying to murder four pregnant mums during childbirth using a blood-thinning drug. READ  

Top university switches master's to English
Munich's TU university wants to switch its master's programmes to English. Photo: DPA

Top university switches master's to English

UPDATE: One of Germany’s top universities wants to ditch German and switch almost all of its master’s programmes to English in the next six years, prompting fears that the academic standing of the German language is under serious threat. READ  

Death sentence for Afghan reporter murderer
Anja Niedringhaus (r) with colleague Kathy Gannon in 2013. Photo: DPA

Death sentence for Afghan reporter murderer

A former Afghan police commander has been sentenced to death in Kabul for the killing of German war reporter and photographer Anja Niedringhaus in April this year. READ  

ECB blackmailed after data stolen
The ECB building (right) in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

ECB blackmailed after data stolen

The European Central Bank in Frankfurt has received a blackmail letter after its public website was hacked and contact data stolen, the bank said on Thursday. READ  

Manhunt on for police officer's killer
Police searching the area on Thursday morning have released an e-fit of the suspect. Photo: DPA/Polizei Hessen

Manhunt on for police officer's killer

UPDATE: An off-duty police officer was shot dead in a street in western Germany on Wednesday night, prompting a large-scale manhunt for the culprit. READ  

Berlin is Europe's fastest growing tourist city
Photo: DPA

Berlin is Europe's fastest growing tourist city

Berlin is the fastest growing tourist destination among Europe’s major cities, with overnight stays in the capital up eight percent in 2013. It could soon topple Paris as Europe’s number two tourist city. READ  

Lufthansa flight ban is 'surrender to terror'
Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International airport board shows cancelled flights from Europe on Wednesday. Photo: DPA

Lufthansa flight ban is 'surrender to terror'

Politicians criticized German flight operators for "surrendering to terror" after they refused on Thursday to resume flights to Tel Aviv, despite a US decision to lift a two-day flight ban to the Israeli city. READ  

'Auschwitz criminal' dies ahead of US extradition
Photo: DPA

'Auschwitz criminal' dies ahead of US extradition

An 89-year-old American and alleged Nazi war criminal died just hours before a US court approved his extradition to Germany, his lawyer said late on Wednesday. READ  

Robots could take half of jobs in Germany
The employee of the future? Photo: DPA

Robots could take half of jobs in Germany

More than half of the jobs currently being done in Germany could be taken over by robots in the next 20 years, according to a think-tank. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Sport
Yoga helped Jogi's boys bring World Cup home
Photo: DPA
National
Pressure on police over anti-Semitic protests
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Politics
View from Germany: 'Nobody will win in an economic war with Russia'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Jobtalk: How innovative is Germany?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Germany's week in pictures: July 12th - July 18th
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Which workers is Germany short of?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten best expat jobs in Germany: Which one would you choose?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Shutterstock
Features
Some of the most embarrassing mistakes you can make in German
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,257
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd