The Cold War Berlin — with its Western sector enclosed by a concrete wall — may have inspired David Bowie to write his classic Seventies anthem Heroes but it is the new Berlin that is attracting a wave of British buyers seeking a cool place for a second home that will give them maximum value in euro bricks and mortar.
The city’s winters may be cold, with weeks of snow guaranteed, but legendary German efficiency ensures it will never be the “wrong kind” of snow able to disrupt Berlin’s transport system. This is a year-round capital in every sense. The old city, famed for squats and underground culture, is making way for architectural grand projects and designer family quarters.
The once grim thoroughfare Schoenhause Allee, in the former Communist East, is transformed as a nappy valley so popular there are complaints of a gridlock of designer baby buggies. The offshoot Kastanienallee, linking central district Mitte to Prenzlauer Berg, a newly desirable inner suburb, is packed with hip shops. Heimat Berlin is a natty milliner with floor to ceiling headgear. Temporary Showroom is stocked with the cutting edge international capitalist clothing demonised under Communist rule.
A symbol of the old meeting new, as East met West, is the Neues Museum, which has incorporated demolished elements for its re-opening and is the pinnacle of modern architecture. These days Checkpoint Charlie is “Meet you at the gift shop checkout, Charlie!” as this famously zoned city finds its united capital city identity.
The transformation is drawing the biggest design names. Phillipe Starck is coming in to add cutting-edge design to what was a concrete blockhouse jungle. Tacheles is a glass and steel pyramid development in Mitte with interiors designed by Starck backed by a Swiss developer. A swanky loft, in what was the grim heartland of the former East Germany, is symbolic of the turnaround. From the Stasi stalking the strasse to Louboutins strutting the streets of a city which has grown to about 3.5 million people…..
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