A Berliner Kindl as an Opportunity for Post-Industrial Neukölln

The former Berliner Kindl brewery in Berlin-Neukölln

By Valentin Schipfer and Caspar Lundsgaard-Hansen

Probably the Berliner Kindl would have been proud to see what is going on at its place of birth nowadays – whether sober or tipsy. In these days the Vollgut GmbH and zuHause e.V. are preparing to carry out a responsible task in Berlin-Neukölln’s former Kindl Brewery: Until 2025, they plan to develop the district’s central facility for culture and creativity with supra-regional charisma in the part of Berlin with the highest density of residents with a migration background.

In 1872, the brewery was founded  by a group of innkeepers and bank directors in order to make their wish come true to drink similar beer as in Munich. Everything went well until the start of the 1st World War. Ironically, the economic crisis and the increased alcohol consumption of jobless people entailed a boom for the company. This phase was followed by World War II and another recession which could only be overcome by postwar US-loans. After the Berliner Kindl Brewery AG had passed into Oetker Gruppe’s ownership at the end of the 1980s though, the industrial use at the plant in Neukölln was shut down in 2005.

Berliner Kindl

After a proposal of the architecture office Kaminski to install yet another shopping-mall, there should now come a breath of new life into the spacious vaults through an unprecedented mix of economic and socially responsible ideas. The business oriented company Vollgut GmbH and the association zuHause e.V. have been assigned to this conscientious task. The multifaceted vision for the five different storeys is a reflection of this innovative combination: On one hand the non-acquisitive productions and products from cultural fields like theatre, dance, fine arts, music, movie and media will find room to develop. On the other hand space for acquisitive cultural and creative productions like music, movie, TV and design businesses as well as literature, art, architecture, advertisement and games/software will also be offered. In order to heat up informal networking cafés and small bars will provide distraction.

However, another central aspect can be found in the initiators’ vision for the former brewery site to become a place for imparting knowledge and skills – like the RAW-Temple in Friedrichshain already does. Besides workshops and classes in theatre, dance, music as well as in fine arts, movie and media, there will also be a focus on co-operations between pedagogic institutions and resident artists. Youngsters who don’t get along with classical education or who drop out of school could then attend lessons useful for jobs in the creative industry.

Berlin Kart

This last aspect of the overall vision for the development of the former brewery site might probably happen to be particularly valuable in the context of city development in an economically and socially problem-ridden part of Berlin. On the same subject, we also think that it might have been a good idea to try to keep the existing kart track on the property. The combination of culture and creativity on the one side and inner-city motorsports on the other side could provide an appealing and probably unique blend of “old” and “new” Neukölln. Put differently, this combination could symbolise a co-existence of different lifestyles in a part of Berlin which increasingly becomes affiliated to (the notion of) gentrification. Why not let Neukölln youngsters decide whether to shine on the kart track or the theatre stage?

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