Friday, February 8, 2013

Berlin 2: Somehow this all worked

Social housing

Maerkisches Viertiel neighborhood. Classic post war social housing projects, massive in scale. Big central shopping and mall area, as if someone took the best of Jane Jacobs’ ideas about circulation of people and how community is created. There’s a feeling of openness. Mix of older people who have  been here since the hosues opened, and newer, poorer residents. A small lake created for ambiance. 
Somehow this all worked. For all its shortcomings, a reflection  of an era when there was a sense of civic obligation for the greater good. Like The Great Society  in the US, which if only a half hearted effort, nevertheless represented a political values choice that some things like housing were a human right. 
This was the era that created in the Upper Westside the most successful public housing projects in the US. Were it not for the Vietnam War, (which could be argued was an extension of liberal social engineering on an international level) Lyndon Johnson would be rememebered as one  of our most effective progressive Presidents. An era that began with FDR and ended with Carter with basic assumptions intact whether Eisenhauer or JFK. Just like Reagan’s era exteneded through Bush with even Clinton dismantling welfare. The point is, the societal concensus that produced these social projects no longer exists and seems far away.
Bettina von Arrin campus
Micah’s high school, Bettina von Arrin, built like a ’70’s era civic campus model, different houses for each grade. A general school mixing social classes and academic tracks. Visual marks of a different era.
We visit two arts projects, the massive Ex Rotoprint and Uferhallen. A former printing  factory and a tram factory taken off the market by philanthropists so that affordable studios and places to create could be made available for artists. The artists are moving into Wedding and becoming part of its fabric.
It is what should be. My vision for what the West-Park building was supposed to be. Breaks my heart it has been so hard to bring into being. 

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