Haus of Pain

An update on ‘Carloft‘, the bizarre new apartment block round the corner from me (Kreuzberg SO36) which allows you to take your car to bed with you. Or at least bring it into your apartment, with the use of a big lift. From the sales site, it looks like you have to have quite a flash car if you want to live there (not really worth paying for all that extra space just to keep an old VW campervan in your living room I suppose, although that would be quite cool – you could put guests up in it and they wouldn’t have to buzz to come in and use the toilet).

The whole thing is bemusing, as Kreuzberg isn’t really the sort of place people have expensive cars. In fact it’s the sort of place where most people don’t have a car at all. Schöneberg perhaps? Maybe the developers spotted a gap in the market for people who live in Kreuzberg with nice cars and want to avoid having them torched (there’s been quite a lot of this going on in Berlin lately).

Whatever your view on such things, Carloft in nearly-finished form is a disappointment. I was expecting a glass facade which you could gaze at in awe as cars moved silently between floors, even though you hate the whole idea on principle. In fact, Carloft looks like an old 1930s garage building converted into apartments, with a singular lack of flair. In fact, it appears that the car isn’t even quite in your apartment, but in a semi-open bay next to it. Which could have been a nice balcony instead.

The concept, for those who struggle with the idea of a car, a loft, and a lift:

And some images of the outside


Aesthetically though, it could be worse. Even closer to me, on Paul-Lincke-Ufer itself, they’re demolishing a perfectly good two storey 60s building to build a piece of apology architecture:

I use the term ‘apology architecture’ as it’s designed to apologise for its presence; not for this building any recognisable style (especially modernism) which might offend. It’s timeless, but in a bad way. The worst thing is that just to the left, out of shot, is H H Müller’s rather wonderful Abspannwerk, which was clearly designed to form part of a continuous terrace, which the existing building continues. The new building will create an unnecessary gap, in order, I guess, to create far more (saleable) frontage facing obliquely onto the canal.

Is every new residential building going up in Berlin wrongheaded pastiche? No. There’s some possibly wrongheaded cutting-edge modernism as well , currently emerging out of the frozen ground up on the junction of Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße and Tortraße, by architect Roger Bundschuh and artist Cosima von Bonin, called L40. Lots of images, and floorplans, over here at Dezeen.

Actually, I quite like the look of this. It’s different from the neo-wedding-cake approach (e.g. Paul-Lincke-Ufer) and the default-setting modernism-lite (most of Prenzlauerberg) – it’s actual Architecture, with a capital ‘A’. I assume the surface is intended to be dark grey shuttered concrete, giving it the look of a converted military installation. Which can be a good thing, I think. Nonetheless, I used the word ‘wrongheaded’ earlier, as the floorplans seem to be utterly enslaved by the shape of the building’s footprint (the comments section on the Dezeen piece is worth reading).

Nice as it undoubtedly is to live in a contemporary art gallery, one is given to wonder whether the digital rendering of an interior, viewed on a flat screen, reflects how such pointy rooms will feel when you’re actually in them. What if our own curvy, wide angle, binocular vision makes something quite different of the spaces, so that we’re unable to walk up one of those acute staircases without bumping into the wall and feeling queasy?

I’m not sure anyone living there would invite me round anyway, so have decided not to worry.

Post-post note:

It’s only fair to say that just after I posted, Roger Bundschuh sent me a surprisingly friendly email, offering to let me have a look round the building as it progresses, and pointing out that that, at the very least, my final statement is incorrect.  This caused me to re-read what I’d written, and I was surprised at how randomly harsh I’d been.  I won’t rewrite it, since that’s not in the sprit of ill-informed, self-opinionated blogs like mine, but I have written the paragraph that you’re reading now.


5 thoughts on “Haus of Pain

  1. always on the edge as far as car storage is concernedl, Berlin was the site of Germany’s first parking garage. The listed building at Kantstraße 126,, built in 1930 by Louis Serlin, Hermann Zweigenthal and Richard Paulick, features separate entrance and exit ramps – a German invention!

  2. I MUST get some shots of the Kantstraße garage.. before it’s modernised..

    There’s also one hidden away on Geisbergstraße in Schöneberg .. Built and run by the ABOAG (Berlin Bus Co. pre-1928)

    Oh and BTW.. Schöneberg isn’t the right location either.. dare I say P’berg?

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