It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that of all places it happens in Berlin. The experimental laboratory of Europe. The spearhead of startups, unheard-of and sometime crazy ideas for social innovations and cultural events. The Mecca for many location independents. A city like no other in Germany and Europe.
I am standing on a ground where the future is giving me a handshake. Yet it is still a big construction site, many things are still tentative and I had to walk around the only building that had been set up so far, not really sure where to find the entrance. Just right off the station Gleisdreieck something new is about to be created: the B-Part Am Gleisdreieck. The center where I am sitting rrrrrrright now has opened only a few days ago from now and is the beginning of something bigger. In fact, the ideal city quarter is being born right in front of my eyes. That is of course amazing.
A quick overview: the main themes of the B-Part Am Gleisdreick Project are new work, responsibilities and urban mobility. On an area of ca. 1,000 square meters you can find a public café, exhibitions, events, an art gallery, a special fitness parkour…and of course the coworking space with more than 100 seats to work.
I was lucky enough to have a chance to sit down and talk to David Flemming from St. Oberholz who is in charge for the coworking space section at the brand new B-Part Am Gleisdreieck project.
St. Oberholz is one of the first cafes in Berlin which experimented with the concept of merging coworking and café in one place, with their oldest location at Rosenthaler Platz. This makes them having a lot of experience in the field of coworking.
Economadia: David many thanks for the spontaneous interview first of all. What is your role here at the B-Part Am Gleisdreieck Project?
David: I am the manager for coworking at B-Part Am Gleisdreieck. My role is basically to establish the coworking department in the B-Part Am Gleisdreieck Project. We create the space for location independent individuals such as freelancers or also students, start-ups and companies in this environment. Everyone who wants to be productive. However, we want to offer more than just a working space; the focus is clearly to create a community, to communicate the togetherness of this space and with that we are hoping to have a certain influence on the continuation of the whole project. This way we wish to influence and shape the future of Berlin.
Economadia: Talking about creating a community, which type of events are you having in mind?
David: Pretty much all kinds of events actually. I mean, we started out here only 10 days ago and in this project many things are possible. There is the park right outside, Philipp Boy is creating the fitness parkour, and we have an art gallery. So many things that can be combined with each other, I can’t tell what’s going to happen here actually. This can start with a breakfast for the community, presentations about certain topics, parties. Yet, first of all, we even need to get to know to our community in the coworking space ourselves. A few member already signed up but there are also still many more to come. Then it’s about creating personal contact, to learn what they do individually and ultimately harness all the different skills.
Economadia: Two weeks have gone since the opening of the B-Part Am Gleisdreieck Project. What is the first feedback?
David: There are always a few difficulties in the beginning, however, they are more organizational things. This will be of course much smoother in two or three months from now. Other than that, the coworking area had a fantastic start. We are now looking forward to having speakers and events here, which can be also people who are not directly connected to this project.
Economadia: So is it correct that where we are sitting right now will only stay here for maybe a few years? And that upon and around this center everything is then step by step going to happen?
David: Exactly! So this space here is the “Urbane Mitte” and during the time of construction we are trying to use this space for the next 5-6 years. So to give you an understanding, the house here can be dismounted and being set up again exactly the same way as it is right now in a different location. But this is still a bit too far in the future to think about right now.
Economadia: So you are saying again and again that you are trying to do something and trying to take influence. Who is actually the one that has to make the decisions then?
David: That is the municipality of the city Berlin. What is really going to happen ultimately I can’t tell. We as St. Oberholz are one of the project partners who think about the future of „living“ and „working“. These two topics belong together but often are not very well thought through as a unit. We of the St. Oberholz team together with our landlord, the Copro company, want to give advice and work out solutions, however, at the end the decisions on such a big project depend on many more factors.
Economadia: So for you personally, what characterizes an ideal city quarter?
David: For me, the park definitely needs to be preserved and many sport opportunities should be offered. And of course the creation of a working space which fosters creativity and productivity is important.
Economadia: What is your personal motivation to work here and to be a part of this?
David: I am very interested in the coworking department and I am very excited that this project gives the great opportunity to take part of the process from the first hour.
Economadia: Are you yourself actually location independent?
David: I used to live abroad for many years; however, I am not location independent. Yet, I really like this concept and I love to listen to and connect people with different backgrounds and approaches. For instance, someone is a program developer, the next person a designer and yet another person is a freelancer for something, there are always chances that something new can come up with this combination.
Economadia: Is there any sort of project in the world that serves as an example for B-Part Am Gleisdreieck?
David: To be honest I don’t know if there are similar projects around the world. I can say for sure that I we are unique in Berlin.
Economadia: Is it for you kind of emblematical that this happens here in Berlin?
David: laughing, Well, I like it that it is happening here! I mean there is still a certain free space here in Berlin and the municipality should have an interest in creating new stimuli for productivity, yet keeping an open eye on a livable city atmosphere.
Economadia: Can you foresee any sort of issues or problems coming up with the project here?
David: There will be never an easy solution, that’s for sure. We as a team try to work out new ways together and I feel that with a lot of open-minded people there possibilities and ideas will be coming up and that is what we want. We work and think together to shape Berlin’s future.
Issues such as mobility, traffic, gentrification, and so on are hot topics. And yeah, it would be great if the B-Part Project turns out to become a space where people can address such issues with good ideas and find solutions accordingly.
Economadia: David, many thanks again for the interview!
The April sun is shining through some dissolving clouds giving it a nice evening light, the twilight is setting in. I look to the outside, to the construction site, and for people like me who are having a hard time to visualize in their mind of how things could look like one day it leaves behind a bit of a mystical cloud.
It remains exciting what is going to happen with this big and ambitious project over the next years. You should definitely check it out when being around in Berlin next time.