Hamburg artists celebrate success in saving squatted quarter

Artists who squatted the Gängeviertel area of central Hamburg invited visitors in over the weekend to celebrate the first anniversary of their deal with the city to preserve and develop the historic buildings.

Hamburg artists celebrate success in saving squatted quarter
Photo: DPA

Launching the Komm in die Gänge initiative, the artists invited the public to check out what is being achieved there, with concerts, exhibitions, readings, an art market and a programme for children.

“We want to remember the first few days and weeks,” said architect and co-initiator Heiko Donsbach.

Last August around 200 artists squatted the old buildings around the Caffamacherreihe, setting up exhibition spaces, playing music, holding discussions and staging parties. Around 3,000 people came to see what was going on in the first weekend alone.

The artists wanted to protect the old buildings from being torn down and at the same time draw attention to the lack of space in the city for creative endeavours.

Discussions with the city government led to the state paying €2.8 million to buy the site back from a Dutch investor which had plans to develop it.

Now a concept has to be developed of how to proceed – the artists have plans for ateliers, flats and businesses as well as space for social projects.

“This is cultural heritage and that has to be maintained,” said Donsbach. There is also talk of making the area self-administrating, open to all ideas.

The first renovations should be finished by the end of next year, with a further three years work to be expected.

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