Thursday, September 26, 2013

Berlin: poor but sexy

First off, what a cool city. Too cool, actually. I headed to Berlin with about 40 other Dutch urban planners, architects, and entrepreneurs on a study trip. My company (read: I) planned the trip and we spent about 3 days examining their strategies around temporary use, among other topics, ie,  bottom-up initiatives, user-driven transformation, organic urban planning, vacancy, co-working, urban agriculture, innovation, participation, the civic economy. 

We also really wanted to explore Berlin's unofficial motto: Poor but sexy. Why? How? 

We'd arranged guided walking/cycling tours and discussions with Berlin leaders pertaining to the specific theme. Of course our goal was to learn and see, first-hand, what makes Berlin a special place in terms of the themes of our trip. We intended to discuss challenges, opportunities, unexpected results, and the history of temporary use, development, and public participation in Berlin. We hoped each site visit and conversation revealed a concrete lesson that we might be able to apply to our own challenges in Rotterdam. You can read more about this trip and the conclusions here and here. The highlights were: walking through Neukolln, the Klunkerkranich rooftop bar and Farbfelder garden project, the city model at the urban planning department, and of course cycling through the city to the old Templehof Airport, now used as a giant park and kite-flying hotspot. Yep, cool.

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