Marc O'Polo

Sustainably Clothed

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

This DGNB Gold certified building houses the Marc O’Polo clothing brand and features many sustainable building features. It uses recycled and renewable materials instead of plastic. The wall paints are sustainable and large panoramic windows combined with energy efficient lighting ensures high energy efficiency.

But most importantly, the showcase is beautiful inside and out, inviting passersby into a sustainable haven.

Görtlizter Park

Sustainable Highway

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

The site of Görlitzer Bahnhof in 1865, this nearly 35-acre park has a deep history of a fight for sustainability. In the 1920s the Görlitzer Tunnel was constructed for subway use and this station is where Hitler arrived after returning from Czechoslovakia in 1938. Although it was first suggested in 1959 that the area be turned into a park, the owners of the park, the Deutsche Reichsbahn, sought to build a highway over the land instead, only to be halted by the building of the Berlin Wall and a highway’s subsequent uselessness in the area and due to large protests against its construction. Grassroots organizations, like Club SO 36, engaged in projects to develop the land into a park beginning in the early 1980s but once again the area’s future was put into question when oil was found in the site’s groundwater in 1981.

Slowly, though, work continued. A children’s farm was opened in 1981 and a swimming pool could be found from 1982-1987. In 1989 the Mutoid Waste Company built an art installation on the grounds and ever so surely the park began to form its own character and gain recognition. Today the park offers sport places, walking paths, and open lawns and also connects to a beautiful stretch along a canal.

 
 

Original Unverpackt

A New Way to Shop

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

Upon first walking into Original Unverpackt (Original Unpacked), you’re likely to be a bit confused. That’s because this is not your ordinary supermarket. Instead of wasteful pre-packed goods, Original Unverpackt offers many of the same products but asks you to bring your own packaging.

Come with a mason jar (or buy one of theirs), put it on the scale and print out the label, then fill up your jar(s) with everything from rice to pasta to tea to meal to banana chips. Vegetables and fruit are also available in the boutique store that aims to change the way we look at grocery shopping. After grabbing all your goods, simply weigh your container again and pay. The idea was conceived in November 2012 by Milena Glimbovski and Sara Wolf and took off in 2014 with the opening of Original Unverpackt. Here’s the crazy part; most of the goods offered are cheaper than they would be at another grocery store, in part due to the cheaper packaging costs and in part from fostering local partnerships. By changing how we view the conventional grocery shopping experience, Original Unverpackt carves out a very sustainable space. 

Volkspark Friedrichshain

Bunker, Ball, and Beer

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

Laid out in the 19th Century by Gustav Meyer as a place for rest and recovery for the nearby residents, Volkspark Friedrichshain is a 121-acre park with countless walking paths, beach volleyball courts, table tennis spots, an actual rock climbing rock, beer gardens, fountains, and two bunkers left from the second war, one 78 meters and the other 48 meters, both offering views over the park and city. It was here in the larger of the bunkers that priceless stolen works were kept by the Nazis and tragically burned at the end of the war. An additional attraction of the park is the Märchenbrunnen or Fairy Tale Well built in 1913 by Ludwig Hoffman and featuring figures from the Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales. Today the expansive park offers something for everyone and seems to connect various peoples and city sections together through a natural expanse.

ufaFabrik

Metropolis Metropolis

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

It was here at ufaFabrik that world famous films like Metropolis and Django, but also countless German and Nazi propaganda films, were edited and sent out. The film factory for Universum Film AG from 1923-1964, the site has a rich cultural history. The factory grounds were used until the 1970s but were scheduled for demolition in the 1970s until a local fight saved the grounds. In 1979 the revitalization of the grounds and its modern era began. The International Cultural Centre ufaFabrik offers a Guest House, organic bakery, bio cafe, circus and practice studio along with a children's circus school, samba group, a children's farm, an indoor and an outdoor theater, and a Variety Salon. It hosts artists, festivals, comedy events, concerts, movies, circus performances, and world music shows.

On top of its world-class cultural offerings, ufaFabrik has countless sustainable attributes. Each building on the complex is now outfitted with a green roof, the first one built in 1986. An elaborate rain water system collects excess water in rain barrels. Windows for the indoor theater and performance studios are sound reducing and the outdoor theater is surrounded by a living wall to further prevent sound pollution. Large composting bins help ensure waste reduction. A bio market (left) and cafe offer sustainable food. And numerous wind turbines and solar panels help provide the complex with a very sustainable energy portfolio, further aided by a cogeneration system (see photo gallery below; image source). In 2004, ufaFabrik won the UN-Habitat "Best Practice to Improve the Living Environment" award. ufaFabrik has always been a cultural pioneer and still today the complex is a place for innovative thinking. Furthermore, with sustainable elements presented alongside cultural and other lively attractions, ufaFabrik presents visitors a world that's fun, rewarding, while also sustainable, demonstrating the value and beauty of environmentalism and inspiring a commitment to an integrated and natural city in all who walk the grounds, shop at the bakery, eat at the cafe, or even just watch a movie.  

Viktoriapark

High Above

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

Over 30-acres, Viktoriapark is a beautiful park in the heart of Kreuzberg, characterized by artificial waterfalls and its 66 meter high hill, the tallest natural point in the city of Berlin. The hill was already used as early as the 16th Century to grow wine. And here in 1821 Schinkel had a war memorial built on top of the hill to remember the war of liberation against Napoleon (1812-1815). Today waterfalls, 24 meters at the longest, greet visitors, whether going for a run through the hills of the park, picnicking, or enjoying the sunset over the city of Berlin as they reflect on the beauty and importance of public place. 

Park auf dem Nordbahnhof

Smooth Sailing

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

The 13-acre, sail-shaped park outside Berlin's Nordbahnhof was formerly a borderland during the Berlin Wall days and today remnants of wall installations can still be found. So too can railroad remnants from the park's earlier days. The park's modern form was conceived in 1995 and today the park features open meadows, sunbathing areas, playgrounds, a nearby beach bar and a climbing park, and wonderful views of surrounding Berlin. Right outside the park, just blocks away, stands the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall along Bernauer Straße, reminding us of the power of a park to bring people, land, and issues back together. 

Haus der Kulturen der Welt

A House, A Home

All images are author's unless otherwise noted

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt, House of World Cultures, is a public forum created in the 1950s on a site with a deep history. In the 17th Century, the area was used for game preserves and later as pleasure grounds for Brandenburg nobility. This area was already associated with debate and discussion after the March Revolution of 1848. Constructed as a congress hall in the 1950s, the building housed exhibitions, international conferences, and culture events from 1956-1980 (in 1980 the building's roof collapsed). Then, in 1989, the building was given a second life as a conference and culture center.

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) takes Benjamin Franklin to be a patron saint due to his advocation for freedom, and the following quote is engraved in the side of the Haus: "God grant that not only the love of liberty, but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all nations of the earth so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say 'this is my country'". 

In addition to its devotion towards free and open dialogue, HKW derives its sustainable character from many events hosted to bring environmental issues to the table. Most recently, HKW hosted the Anthropocene Project over the course of the last year which brought together countless academics for a series of fascinating presentations and exhibits seeking to define the Anthropocene and discuss issues it presents. The impact this project had on visitors, forcing them to confront the challenges of our era, shows very clearly the power of a space to influence our behavior. A forum for the world's cultures, Haus der Kulturen der Welt is an important space to help unite sustainability. 

See all spaces