Mörchenpark and Holzmarkt: In the Ruins of Bar25
ack in the fall of 2010, Bar25—that infamous den of excess, escape, hipsterdom, confetti, and exclusiveness—finally closed its doors. The space lay fallow through 2011 as the city (through the public sanitation company, Berliner Stadtreinigung or BSR) prepared sell off the property. Now, the premises are going on the auction block, and the former management team of Bar25 is raising money to buy it back.
But they won’t be rebuilding Bar25 anytime soon. In a May 23rd press release (which I translated into English at the bottom of this post) sent to the mailing list of Kater Holzig (the successor to Bar25 built directly across the river from the original space in 2011), the project team insisted repeatedly that they are not asking for donations just to buy back their own business. Instead, they’re proposing two not-for-profit projects, which would share the parcel of land on Holzmarktstraße 24-25. One project, Holzmarkt (site in German), would create a small artisan village (like Tacheles, maybe?), where independent artists and artisans would live on-site, in their ateliers, which would also serve as a market open to the public (during business hours). Another project, Mörchenpark, would involve a sort of playground/fantasy park for kids, also open to the public and with lots of participatory activities.
Notably, the press release (written by Steffi/Lotta a.k.a., Bar25’s ”Door Hitler”) went to great pains to make it clear that both projects would be open to the public, including footpath along the riverfront that would always be open. They do this partially because one of the regulations for all new construction on the river Spree is to keep the strip of land directly along the river open to the public. But another probable reason for the emphasis on public-access here is that Bar25 was sometimes criticized by the anti-Mediaspree movement for making use of the “Spreeufer für Alles!” (“Spree riverfront for all!”) campaign for their own benefit when their tenancy was under threat, but at the same time their own strip of riverfront was hardly open to the public—what with the exclusive door policy and charging for entry. In this context, you can also understand why one attendee to their open-door day yesterday wrote on the “Wishboard” in the middle of the event space: NO FENCES, NO VIP, NO TÜRSTEHER (i.e., bouncers).
Perhaps in order to dispel possible misgivings (and certain to raise money), the the project team put on a “Mörchentag für Alle,” a sort of open-house day where they re-occupied the former Bar25 property and put on a demonstration of some of the amenities/activities their project would entail (see the slideshow below). For kids, this included a children’s theater, a puppet theater, a carrousel, face-painting, a community garden, and a sand-dune playground. For adults, this included the drink/snack bar that they built during the last year of Bar25 (the thing that looks like a mountain made out of junk in the picture at the top of this post), some live music, a riverside picnic area, a temporary reconstruction of the infamous Bar25 photo booth, and artisan stalls selling their wares. While the amenities for the kids were admittedly really nice, the adult offerings were less exciting (without the drugs, it seems), especially the artisan vendors. There were two: one was doing on-demand silk-screening of the Mörchenpark logo onto t-shirts, while another guy was selling what appeared to be used watches. I’d like to imagine that there would be more.
And, finally (and most importantly), there were two information booths set up to answer questions about the Holzmarkt and Mörchenpark projects. The Mörchenpark booth gave people the opportunity to sign a petition for the project and/or sign up as a member of the association (Mörchenpark is planned as an “e.V.”: eingetragener Verein, registered association). The Holzmarkt booth didn’t have anything there to sign, but it seemed like the person manning the booth was primarily to answer questions from interested artisans. As for the people who showed up? Some old Bar25 confetti-heads, some local families, and what appeared to be a lot of former Bar25 patrons who have now settled down and made babies. Will the patrons of Bar25 and Kater Holzig become the new generation of BoBos? Only time will tell.
It’s anyone’s guess at this point whether Mörchenpark/Holzmarkt will ever become a reality. I can imagine that there are a lot of other building companies already excitedly submitting bids and projects (the bidding process still requires the project plans to be approved by the city). But I’m sure the city is aware of the potential benefit for the city (and its image) if they accepted a grassroots, local, non-profit, co-operative project. And, in any case, maybe they’ll raise enough money to outbid the property developers. Stranger things have happened in Berlin.
Press Release for Mörchenpark and Holzmarkt
Translated from German by LMGM (i.e., me).
Sent on May 23, 2012, to the mailing list of Kater Holzig.
Hallo Friends, dear Interested Parties, valued Individuals, Doubters, Neighbors and notorious Buzzkills.
I know that the name bar25 is way overexposed these days, and nonetheless I’d like to MOST VEHEMENTLY—and with all available means—annoy you. I want to jolt each one of you awake, I want to raise your awareness about a very distinctive site.
I don’t think that the press has really succeeded in properly explaining what an unprecedented opportunity we have standing before us right now. Berlin is for sale, and WE can have a piece — WE need only to band together. Anyone who can earnestly and downright positively get enthusiastic about this should hear me out and read this message to the end.
Dear Berliners. WE have a one-shot chance to acquire the former premises of bar25, in order to do justice to this city, to which so many of us once moved, fled, and wandered. WE can show the world, that something will soon be going down here—something that is no longer possible in other metropoles, where everything has already come under the hammer.
WE, and here I really mean WE, cannot and must not simply let this opportunity slip away. PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT “MÖRCHENPARK” IS A NON-PROFIT PROJECT AND WE ARE NOT COLLECTING MONEY FOR A NEW BAR25!!!!!! We want a future. Not a bubble that will burst again when apartments are to be built or office buildings come to spoil this beautiful central district.
Up to now, this alone has been our concept: no prefabricated housing, not another O2World.
On the 12,000m2 Holzmarkt premises, at least 50 tenants of every color — from baker to artist — will be able to make their dreams into reality, far away from “temporary use” projects! Without walls and with a riverfront path for everyone, a free and multi-colored village can emerge in the center of the city, with a park (Mörchenpark, literally, “little carrot park,” but rhymes with “fairy-tale park” in German) on half of the premises, for young and old. A place that would make Berlin into a thoroughly exceptional world capital. A CITY THAT HAS MUCH LOVE AND DIVERSITY TO OFFER. BECAUSE WE ARE BERLIN. Dear politicians, business bosses, and city-planners, I ask you all to trust that our concept will provide a handsome return on investment—in numbers as well as in image. I pinky-swear it.
The dream is alive again. Dear PEOPLE, WAKE UP; please, let’s not just stand back and watch like some ***, as this magical place, this 24-hour summer-and-sun-happiness-dispenser is turned into a Big Flop. Just imagine how awesome it could be and forget that this is being organized by the people from Kater or bar25.
We, ALL OF US, NEED EVERY GOOD PERSON OUT THERE TO MAKE THIS PLACE A REALITY.
***ON FRIDAY, 25.MAY.2012 WE’RE HOLDING AN OPEN-HOUSE DAY … COME ON BY AND LEARN MORE … ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHILDREN WILL BE PROVIDED. WE WILL PLAY ON THE PREMISES, SO THAT YOU CAN IMAGINE WHAT THINGS CAN LOOK LIKE IN THE NEAR FUTURE … WE WANT TO SHOW YOU WHAT AN AMAZING PRIZE DER HOLZMARKT AND DER MÖRCHENPARK WOULD BE FOR THIS NEIGHBORHOOD—AND, THANKS TO US ALL, IT WILL BE SOON***
WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO WE *** WITHOUT YOU ALL, WE WON’T MAKE IT !!! ***
TAKE A LOOK AND SEE …WE’RE IN AN AMAZING POSITION TO BUY BACK PART OF OUR CITY AND AT LEAST MAKE A BIT OF DIFFERENCE IN HOW BERLIN’S FUTURE WILL LOOK LIKE … FOLKS, THAT’S AWESOME!!!!
Simon Wöhr (030. 47361686)…call him if you have questions of any sort… Simon can explain everything to you, HE’S UP IN THIS PROJECT LIKE A LITTLE CARROT.
Great, I’ve gotten that off my chest. I ardently hope that it made sense—that it fell on open ears, free minds, and met with enthusiasm.
If I’ve made myself look ridiculous, that’s still worth something to me.