Berlin’s industrial remains regain artistic vitality

Since the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 and the confirmation of Berlin as the new capital, the city has received a new lease of life. However, the careful protection of the relics by the Germans reflects their respect for history.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Berlin was an industrial city during the boom of German industry. A large number of energy supply facilities, such as power plants, pump houses, and substations, are located in every corner of the city. Berlin was once known as the “electricity capital” of Europe.

As the times change, there are more and more industrial relics in this city. In the process of urbanization, Berliners do not have a brain to tear down and rebuild, but think about how to give these old spaces new life.

Berlin’s Pfefferberg was once a brewery founded by Bavarian master brewer Joseph Pfeffer in 1841, which also includes a beer garden. Since 2000, it has been transformed, and galleries, cultural event spaces, studios, private architectural drawing museums, restaurants and hotels have successively settled in. In 2012, the Guggenheim Foundation and BMW established a research laboratory here. In 2013, the theater in the park opened. This is also the headquarters of the most famous architectural forum Aedes in Berlin.

Pfefferberg was included in the “European Industrial Heritage Road” in 2017 and is a famous old factory renovation project in Germany. Walking in the park, old red brick buildings can be seen everywhere. The tall chimney has now become a decoration of the park. There is also a beer garden in the park, which is filled with wooden tables and chairs. The huge brass beer brewer in the restaurant seems to tell people the story of the past here.

There is no hustle and bustle in the theater during the day, but the repertoire posters on the wall are dazzling. People in the gallery quietly admire or select paintings. Suddenly, I smelled the fragrance of bread and found a coffee bakery. It turned out that I was almost out of the park. People do not feel the boundary of Pfefferberg, it seems that it has naturally integrated into the lives of the surrounding residents.

Not far from Berlin Central Station, stands the Hamburg Station Museum of Contemporary Art. The predecessor of the pavilion was a stop for trains between Berlin and Hamburg. It was built in 1846. After reconstruction, it opened to the public as a contemporary museum in 1996.

On the day I went, I came across an exhibition by the German female artist Katharina Grosse. The artist has been exploring the new possibilities of painting and its significance in the contemporary context. For her, the plane structure of painting is no longer the only way of expression, and the materials of painting are not limited to materials that have been widely accepted by the public.

The huge original station hall and the public space outside the hall have become the artist’s canvas. The works are not only flat, but also three-dimensional. When the audience walks in the painting, they will have a magical interaction with the content created by the artist and the current field. After appreciating the whole work, I looked up and found that I had already walked out of the old station hall and saw the back of it.

I walked back to the exhibition hall again, looking for traces of the past. The steel frame in the exhibition hall is exposed, and the vaults and semi-circular windows carry the imprint of that era. On the exit door in the middle of the exhibition hall, there is still the German “Hamburg Train Station”, which makes people feel a sense of dialogue across time and space.

There are many such locations in Berlin. The people here combine culture, art, creativity and industrial relics, so that these elements have a wonderful reaction in the interlaced time and space. The public has a direct connection with these spaces and draws the nutrients of urban culture from them. People can not only see the relics of past industries in these spaces, but also unconsciously explore new ways of living and working in the city.