This is not a house
An appropriation of facades
In our 10th anniversary year we were invited to be part of the exhibition “Transgressive – Nonconformist Approaches to Art and the City” curated by Lukas Feireiss. We decided to show a minimalist work that retrospectively located our work in the here and now of real estate speculation. In its statement and form as a sticker, the work was already part of the collaborative project “1km² Berlin – the tragedy of the open city” (2020) by Guerilla Architects and Alicia Agustín.
In the following, the co-exhibited text describes a retrospective of our work.
THIS IS NOT A HOUSE
LONDON, 2012. An old Victorian warehouse is left vacant for over 25 years due to real estate speculation. It is not a house anymore, it’s an asset.
We squat it and bring it back to life. The police come in after two days and approve that we have the right to stay. Eventually and slowly, we re-open the former warehouse to the neighbourhood. We clean the windows, repair the facilities and invite the neighbours, artists and fellow squatters to our dining table to discuss the future of 55 Great Suffolk Street.
This property is one of the many left vacant. About 72.000 properties form a “Hidden Borough” of assets waiting to be re-developed. Most of them are forgotten places erased from the mental maps of their neighbourhoods. No one ever knocks on the doors or looks through the windows to see if anyone still lives there.
To highlight the dilemma of these vacancies, we paste posters of blue doors in a 1:1 format on them for people to see this “Hidden Borough” again. This is our first intervention in breaking professional boundaries of architecture and merging them with activism and performance.
BERLIN, 2022. Ten years later, and here too real estate speculation is a jarringly visible thread of the housing crisis. More and more houses are taken off the real estate market – mainly the housing market – and find themselves as assets i.e, capital investments in the financial market.
These properties whose facades still suggest that they are part of existing neighbourhoods form a hidden borough of profit-oriented capital investments, whose exclusivity and constantly rising rents have long since made them unaffordable for local residents.
But Berlin has not yet lost the battle against the financialization of the real estate market. Find the assets. Research the ownership structures of your neighbourhoods and make them visible.
Resist living alongside the shiny facades of future empty assets.