Posts Tagged ‘KaDeWe


Photograph of Berlin in motion, without a camera

I still have to decide whether to pay up for new uploading space – hefty fee… – or cancel some photos already published. In the meantime I will keep on writing. Things that are changing at present in Berlin. As usual. I’ll picture them without a camera.

City West, Charlottenburg

At Breitscheidtplatz there is a lot going on. Bikini Berlin is being spruced up – gone are the garish souvenir shops, but there are still some opposite side of the street to counterbalance the imminent glamour. Zoo Palast is back and looking very good indeed, we swing in between ZooBar and ZooLoge and we’re never tired of it. And now the worrying bit. A building has disappeared across the newly built Waldorf – what was it by the way? – and the Zwillingsturm will fill the gap by 2016 – a hotel, in case you may wonder.

Europa Center is still up and running, some stores have changed hands though. The fountain/hole opposite Europa Center is still there but rumor has it that it might be filled. A Curry36 can be found opposite the Bahnhof Zoo entrance – had it always stood there? Beate Uhse is still up and running but god knows until when – maybe worth a visit before it dissolves in thin air. The Amerika Haus is now hosting the c/o photo gallery. Here is something I regret, never to have visited the previous c/o, on Oranienburger Strasse, in the big Postfuerhramt  building.

Steinplatz, yet another hotel. But being honest I had never noticed the mighty building on the corner with Hardenbergerstrasse so maybe it’s only when buildings are renovated that we really notice them?

KuDamm, yet another hotel, but this time with reason. Cumberland House went back to its original destination, apartments and hotel, and grand Café…We never had noticed it before, as it was still a Finanzamt building. Its sheer size is so overwhelming that somehow it still goes unnoticed even nowadays. The Café Grosz’s Historicismus style is incredibly massive, its Mitteleuropean flavour recalls bits of Vienna and Triest. It’s a place for spending time, talking and eating and reading and observing. Welcome back.

Next to Cumberland House an angular building is shaping up as an Audi showroom, we’ll see more of it in time for the Berlinale. It does not seem particularly innovative, or with staying power, but this is the fate of the KuDamm. To mix the eternally graceful or powerful – Zoo Palast, Bikini House, KaDeWe – with the mainstream, “trendy”…or even the ugly.

It’s been around for a few months already, but the Apple store in the massive UFA Film-Bühne Wien cinema building  on KuDamm still hurts. The gray Neo-classical building had been empty for a while, and its fate was to become – obviously – a retail destination. Still the Cupertinist store – once a mighty foyer – feels so poor. The tablet is on the table. Alas.

The pain is not over. Hugo Boss has now replaced the once whimsical entrance of Hotel am Zoo , with its sloped glass canopy defying logic. True, the Boss glass boxes are probably the most stylish among the ones lining the KuDamm. But I always wondered what kind of encounters would have taken place behind the red velvet curtains of its tacky foyer. Too late. The hotel has been renovated, the reception probably moved up and the ambiguity should be also gone, now that “we’re on Facebook!”.

Barbarossa Kiez, Schoeneberg

Tomorrow night we’ll be back, I am curious to spot the difference vs the last impression I got last November, when, for the first time, I could glimpse the sunset from Barbarossastrasse across Eisenacherstrasse. Gone is the big housing estate (“the countless ringbells building” called it a friend of us). Wonder if the sky is still visible or if a new shadow is now cast.

Washington Platz, Mitte

We briefly glanced at it through taxi windows on an early morning. But it seems that more and more boxy buildings have appeared since last Summer? More hotels…what else?

Leopold Platz, Wedding

A neo-bauhaus 1960s library on stilts – quite nice I must admit – is now about to be renovated. Let’s hope the area will retain its community destination. Nearby a 1970s faded brown department store box still bearing the trace of its has-been C&A livety, yet another Fitness First building stares at the highstreet below, its diamond shaped glass windows like raised eyebrows. This one is a “Women” one. We wonder if the raison-d’etre of a female-only fitness club in an area full of Turkish stores is scarf-related?

Leipziger Strasse, Mitte

There was a big hole, more than 10 meters deep. And now you wouldn’t tell there had ever been one. A new shopping center has gone up. Yes sir. A new one.

Viktoria Kiez, Kreuzberg

We had spent some days in the former Schultheiss brewery newly built apartments back in 2007. We went to check out if the project had taken off or was still on hold. Well, quite a lot has been built on the site. Some apartments blend in within the brick and iron brewery structure. Others feel too uniform and anonymous, like an oversized Siedlung. Bruno Taut would not be happy. Too tall, too white, too repetitive. Thanks god there are still brick buildings.


A December copy of “Berlin Nord” reports that the Hertie dept store inaugurated with big fanfare in 2007 – and closed less than two years later – is still empty, in spite of its helicopter opening ceremony. Why not recycling the existing? By the way, also the Hauptstrasse Hertie looks still empty and lonely.


A lot has been written on the new mega architect competition for a giant library on Tempelhof. Uhm…


It was only by chance, that we spotted the newly built Landtag just days after its inauguration. Once again we were surprised. The last time we had been around here we entered a red Infobox with posters explaining plans and budget details. What should I say…we were happy of the result. The sunset blesses Potsdam in the most flattering way, and seeing now this New-Neoclassical building with its pastel colours and gilded crest feels so human. It does not really matter that it is not the original one. The overall skyline of Potsdam is somewhat restored to its roots, Nikolaikirche and the lot. Now only the Mercure Hotel stays in the way, and obviously we now long for its annihilation. Still we wonder why where we against the Palast der Republik destruction – and the Schloss reconstruction – and we love the same exercise in its Potsdam version? We still haven’t understood this. Maybe because der alte Fritz was known for creating Prussian copy-cats in architecture and not being ashamed of it? Or because the Palast der Republik looked out of place just like a totalitarian version of Beaubourg?


Things to do next time in Berlin

1. buy tickets in advance for the Richter exhibition at the Nationalgalerie;

2. book for a window table at the Empire of Cakes;

3. go, as usual, to the Fischkutte counter at KaDeWe – it’s our ritual;

4. buy the ticket in advance for the Delphi or the Astor Lounge cinemas;

5. and for the Philarmonie;

6. go to Lutter und Wegner, this time round we skipped it…

7. check out Arkona Platz


Berlin building blocks

First day in Berlin, lunch at KaDeWe’s Fischkutter! It’s our tradition. Checking refurbishment and building site is our way to check in with the city. Works in front of Wittenbergplatz are almost over, still Tauentzienstrasse is under complete overhaul. Just checking how the city planners are behaving…

But first, we run mad at the Lego flagship. There is now a new series, Architecture, by which you can build the Rockfeller Center, The Needle of Seattle, and F.L.Wright’s House on the Waterfall…fantastic. Kids can play freely with the elements…we feel like children in a candy shop, surrounded by Lego and Duplo. Oh, by the way, KuDamm is now 125 years old.


kudamm: well-deserved kudos

Kudamm is 125. We’ve grown fond of ye olde shopping street. Friedrichstrasse is the first place where you go as a tourist, with all its post-1989 bling. But when you’ve been in Berlin for a while you will surprise yourself heading to old Kudamm regularly, more often than you think, no matter how kitsch you first thought Kudamm was. Continue reading ‘kudamm: well-deserved kudos’


Berlin rituals

There is no Christmas routine without a promenade at the KaDeWe department store. A relaxed one, without last-minute gifting dilemmas. This year the main hall is decorated with a urban park theme: 19th century wrought iron gates and pavillions, skylines hanging up above from the first floor and beautiful  tree decorations in shades of green.

In the middle, the Man Who Works One Week Per Year, the Santa-lookalike. It was fun to see him lose his temper with a particularly spoiled child, enough is enough, even for Santa.

After exploring the assortment of Christmas decorations on the first floor (“wahnsinn!!”), we headed to our favorite floor: the food halls! And to our favorite counter, the fish one…let the others shop, we watch the

shopping frenzy, our only preoccupation being which Riesling to pick…frohe Weihnachten!


while stocks (or shops?) last

In as much as I love Berlin’s KaDeWe, London’s Uniqlo, Tokyo’s Matsuya or Paris’s Bon Marché, I realize that shopping at the local store is also necessary as a way to keep a neighborhood lively.

However recently I have been cancelling a series of local Roman stores from my local shops list. Because they do not deserve my patronage. I wish them happy bankruptcy ASAP. Here is why. Continue reading ‘while stocks (or shops?) last’


24 hours Berlin: 6am in the morning


Two nice discoveries today. A friend in London told me about The Auteurs. And while browsing the movies MeinMann discovered 24 hours Berlin by Volker Heise.

Well, all this has been around for a while but nevertheless, better late than never!

If you love movies The Auteurs is a precious website. And if you love Berlin, you will love this collection of 24 movies shot in Berlin one year ago, each one covering a specific hour of the day. With stunning photography and everyday stories.

The first part of 24 hours Berlin takes us in the capital and her inhabitants at 6am. Nori at the BMW motorbike factory in Spandau. An inmate in the Knast in Reinickendorf. Waking up in a flat in Schoeneberg. A Koepenick fisherman on the Mueggelsee. An old man waiting for heart surgery at the Charite’ hospital in Mitte. A round-the-clock bakery in Schlesisches Tor. An interview with von und zu Guttemberg in front of Brandenburger Gate about John McCain (John McCain…? who was that?). A vain and antipathique foreign correspondent headquartered in Gendarmenmarkt and totally waterproof to the country he’s reporting from.

The crisis was just starting: September 5th, 2008. MeinMann and I only watched episode 1 so far (the one covering the awakening of the city, in between6.00 am and 7 am) and so there’s more to come. We have 23 movies in stock to look forward to now!

One year after this magnificient series of shootings I wonder what happened to the people portrayed in the movie. The world changed an awful lot in the meantime.

Sarah Palin and her red jackets were pestering our screens one year ago. FW Steinmeier was not sure to become THE candidate to the Kanzleramt. Lehman Brothers was fame and glory. Barack Obama was preceded by an “If”. Von und zu Guttemberg was in the making. KaDeWe was strong as an ox. The S-bahn ran on time (but with a dark secret) and the U55 was still in the box.  We were still discussing the project for our flat in Berlin.

This movie frames life in the city and its Zeitgeist. Berlin is the lucky town which deserved but also generated such an oeuvre, I hope it means something beautiful for its future.


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