A performative space appropriation
For ten years, the residents of Mehringplatz have lived in a chaotic construction site without access to the central meeting place. Now the construction fence is gone: what do they do first?
Guerilla Architects, together with residents, designed a series of actions to reclaim the square. Over the course of six weeks, they acted with their mobile project space and a sewing station on site together with initiatives and residents. What do you need to reclaim the once lost public space after years of long-term constructions?
First, we occupied one of the “Luftgeschosse“ (the open ground floor level under the ring-shaped residential development) with our BASTIAN and exchanged with the residents over a period of several weeks. Then we transformed the collected ideas about possible activities on the square into action statements and distributed them to the residents in the form of fortune cookies at the opening ceremony of the square.
Unfortunately, to the dismay of the neighborhood, the square was fenced again after the long-awaited opening, since the grass still had to grow.
To counteract this failed plan together with the neighbors we decided to build an installation of 200 square meters of turf and 7 tons of soil in the empty air floor. With the support of the neighborhood, a temporary green space was created as a meeting place for the residents. For the support in the technical implementation we could win the former meanwhile retired square gardener Henry Fust, who accompanied the common action with his expert knowledge and his stories about the square of the last decades.
Through our active participation in the neighborhood-organized sewing course in the Kiezstube, it emerged the idea of sewing picnic blankets for the meadow. The local weekly market seemed to us the appropriate place to get into conversation with more people with our workshop trolley KLAPPI, to collect fabric donations and to invite the neighbours to sew together.
What was still missing for a perfect picnic was the food: after weeks of work on site, we now also knew all the local gastronomic offerings of the square and invited them to contribute to the neighborhood picnic: falafel from Al Sultan, empanadas from Café Madame, börek from the local baker and cimbollas from Pizzeria Al Catzone formed the diverse picnic menu for the neighborhood party.
A performance by Alicia Agustín – based on the extensive conversations and our site-specific research – told the ten-year story surrounding the failed Mehringplatz construction site.
After the Berlin Bleibt! Festival we dismantled the lawn together with the neighbours and planted it permanently on a tree slice on the square and in the daycare center. The grass is still growing…
- Anja Fritz
- Silvia Gioberti
- Nike Kraft
- Shahrzad Rahmani
- Benedikt Stoll
- Polly Bruchlos
- Charlotte Rosengarth (artistic assistance and costume)
in collaboration with
- Artistic supervision: Nadine Vollmer, Stella Konstantinou with the support of Jann Petersen/HAU to connect / Text: Nike Kraft & Charlotte Rosengarth / performance: Alicia Agustín / video documentation: offscreen media / collaborators from the neighborhood: Al Catzone, Al Sultan Bistro, Café und Bäckerei am Mehringplatz, Café MaDaMe (Karin Lücke, Juan Carlos Polar Zevallos, Manoel Portela Leonico), Ferdinand Föckig, Henry Fust, Moritz Graf, Ina Ravens, Najwa Koussa, Manja Präkels