The hostel we stayed in was a boat hostel on the spree moored just alongside the famous east-side gallery. The views from our cabin were amazing as we looked right out onto the water, and drinks on the upper deck were also a highlight being able to watch the sunset over the spree.

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DAY 1: I arrive at my new home for the week, “The Hostel Boat Berlin” the title really, says it all really, but to summarize:  it is a hostel that is moored on the North East end of the river Spree, just next to the East Side Gallery AKA the old Berlin Wall (which is now beautifully decorated by artists). Incidentally, not recommended for people of my height, 6’2,” as the boat created its own head banging challenges!

Thought for the day / How much has this place changed in the last 26 years!

DAY2: I start the day with the Alternative Kreuzberg Tour! Larisa, the tour guide, showed us the ‘real’ Kreuzberg from the view of a young Architect… Tour very informative and useful!  Her views on the migrant crisis were most interesting, seemingly they echoed Germany’s views sold in the UK press!

Next up was paddle boarding on the Landwehr canal. Apart from firstly being crushed into my wetsuit then being the only person to fall into the putrid water, it was novel becoming a local tourist attraction! (#PaddleBoarding  #KreuzbergCanal #HipstersOnCanals)

Thought for the day / How different Berlin’s attitude to the Migrant crisis is to the UK! But crucially was that canal water really safe to swallow?

DAY3: We navigate Berlin’s incredibly efficient subway system to meet up with the tutors for a ramble around Kreuzberg. There were some slightly sore heads evident thanks to an eventful previous evening!  The afternoon consisted of soaking up the incredible Kreuzberg atmosphere, with sunny weather and Berlin’s ‘walky’ beers, all whilst chilling on the boat with an uninterrupted view of the city down the river!

Thought for the day / It is incredible how much cultures can vary within a short distance! (Imagine ‘Walky’ beers in Glasgow!)

DAY 4: We meet up for a second day of tutor-guided tours. A rather animated R Mantho made sure he imparted his knowledge of reading the city from an architect’s viewpoint. EVERYBODY took part in the conversations!! It was eye opening seeing the contrasts in successful and failing parts of the city! The evening consisted of ‘social’ drinks as a large group followed by some ‘healthy’ architectural debates amongst peers.

Thought for the day / Perhaps one too many ‘Bier’ today!

DAY 5: I was on the team to help put up the MAC’s post-grad exhibition in the Berlin Model centre, that’s right the MAC has gone international! The day was a lesson in meticulous exhibition hanging with a hangover, which then turned into a competition, between certain tutors and students, as to whom was faster at peeling double-sided tape? Who said architects aren’t competitive?

Thought for the day / Architecture hanging with a hang over!

DAY 6: Today consisted of returning to sites of interest that might be relevant to my Thesis, in particular a visit to Gorlitzer Park became an eventful one. As I walked into the park filming some rather interesting characters, holding small packets of ‘white powder’ and ‘green herbs’, I found myself being confronted with some rather threatening drug-dealers wanting their images removed from my iPhone…the things we do for research! The evening consisted of the grand opening of the exhibition whilst Chris Platt showed off his German skills. I examined the inspiring Architecture that the MAC is currently producing! The evening ended with a sample of the Berlin nightlife with the aptly named Suicide Circus Club. I was home just in time to catch my flight back to Glasgow the next morning!

Thought for the day / Berlin is an incredible richly cultured place. Spending time in Kreuzberg has given me a snapshot view of life here! I cautiously hope that it weathers the storm of capitalism and that Kreuzberg keeps its strong sense of community and place identity! Well-done tutors for the inspiring area selection! Bring on the Thesis!



Having been on a rather (overly) ambitious run to Templelhofer Feld we were looking to fuel our day ahead in a big way.
8 x TOMASA brunches comprising of:

Grilled pork tenderloin with tomato hollandaise

Smoked salmon with honey-dill-mustard sauce

Camembert with cranberry and tomato mozzarella

Baked quarkkeulchen with cinnamon and sugar

Apple compote

Scrambled eggs with bacon

Nuremberg sausages

complete with croissants, bread rolls, butter and jam.

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Backing right onto the lower end of Viktoria-Park, the Villa Tomasa in der Kreuzberg was built in 1892 by Hermann Blankenstein and Fritz Haack. The 2-story eatery converted red brick villa still houses the pumps of Kreuzberg waterfalls in its basement and has a courtyard, fireplaces and bar area. Having been rebuilt and modernized in 2002, the villa Tomasa is now a protected monument.

Thanks Shirley, my personal Berlin TripAdvisor for finding this glorious spot!

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Arno Brandlhuber’s intervention at the Berlinische Galerie was devised together with fellow architect Florian Hertweck and graphic designer Thomas Mayfried. The exhibition takes its cue from a book published at the same time, The Dialogic City: Berlin wird Berlin, with the display spaces echoing its seven chapters. Several thousand copies of the book stacked make a dazzling metallic wall and visitors are able to take a copy free of charge upon request.

Beginning from the principle expounded by the French philosopher Edgar Morin, who proposed that contradictions should be allowed to express themselves and to interact productively, Berlin – with its own history of division – is revisited as a city. The chapter Fiction & Reality addresses the role of the Berlinsche Galerie as the public architecture museum for the State of Berlin and its task of looking after the documents and models generated by architectural competitions in the city. By bringing in models from the depot to the exhibition venue, they are entered in the museum’s database before the visitor’s eyes, revealing a crucial aspect to the museum’s work which othewise is normally hidden from public viewing.

The exhibition allows us to not only imagine an alternative Berlin by reconstruction these competition entries; but they also illustrate a history of ideas that continues in unmaterialised form and can serve as an inspiration for today’s debates about the city. The models, along with a most thoughtful collection of architectural thoughts and beautiful drawings made for my favourite exhibition from the week. Not to mention how delighted I was when I later saw my freebie selling for 20 euros in a bookstore.





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Thomas and I went to the Mauer Park market on Sunday. It was much more than what I expected from a market – with almost a festival sort of feel. Market stalls, people relaxing on the grass and several different bands playing all around the park, it made you feel like you were part of something big – part of the alternative community in Berlin.

#23 TOR!


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BERLIN V HAMBURG, 2-0. Originally built for the 1936 Summer Olympics by Werner March, today I stood in the bays of the Olympiastadion for my first football game – and what a first it was to watch. The indefinite energy that resounded throughout the monolithic structure was truly outstanding. Admittedly, I’m not the first to recite the latest football scores of the season’s league, but the mixture of tension, support and excitement I found in this space is something I found that really got me going.

Thanks to Breb Millar, our good friend GSAer-turned-Berlin-local for getting his hands on some tickets for us.




instagram: https://instagram.com/danlowe10/

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Berlin Schoneneld airport was to me both non-descript and efficient. The workers at the desks spoke English without so much as a blink of an eye and directed me to a bus stop, which fortuitously had a final destination of Kreuzberg – all this information was imparted to me in a swift couple of sentences. The price of the bus was reasonable and it was a modest handful of passengers that accompanied me as we snaked our way through the flat urban expanse of outer Berlin.

The roads were long and straight and each block did not have much distinct character as I looked out hungrily for my first impressions of the capital. Whilst no landmarks presented themselves willingly what I did notice immediately was the people and their manner. They were not shy in any respect. Their clothes were individual and their voices loud and clear – should I have spoken German, I would have been party to many a conversation. Additionally there was no hesitation in taking a seat next to me that there perhaps might have been in the UK out of ‘politeness’ or different social etiquette.

A couple of stops into the journey and I regretted my choice of seat, I was sat low down in the middle of the bus and had relegated my view to a mere glance at what passed by on the left. I much preferred the look of the front seat next to the driver which was an individual perch at a higher level and from which I could gain much more of an impression of the surroundings. The roads with their traffic ran smoothly and soon I began to become bored with the samey detached housing plots. Then I was shaken out of my boredom by a gentleman with what can only be described as a sceptre like wooden stick of considerable thickness who loudly barked a couple of lines of German at the driver and stopped in front of me, looking at me with an expression that said – what are you doing in my seat? My natural reaction was to surrender it and the man took it off me without a second thought. I sat for a while wondering whether I had just been manhandled out of a decent seat for no apparent reason because of my lack of German or if this was the expected norm. Better to be safe than sorry.

The bus stop location meant a walk to the flat, how much of a walk was yet to be determined, as I did not yet have my sense of scale or proportion. So wheeling my luggage behind me I set off along a long seemingly never-ending main road. The pavements were wide enough and incorporated a cycle path in their midst. The texture of the small cobbles caused a rattle as my suitcase ran over them, the cycle path was smoother but I ran the risk of being accosted by cyclists who passed at regular intervals. I started to believe that the distance I was covering seemed longer in my head because of the monotony of my journey, there was nothing particularly to draw the eye and the constant stream of traffic and wide mostly empty pavement meant the experience seemed quite alien and non intimate. However, having said that, there were the occasional impressive church buildings which were looming brick builds in good condition and which acted as vista stoppers on a number of occasions. The roads were straight but ran at angles just off parallel so if you made a wrong turn you would walk for miles before you had a chance to put yourself straight and would have to walk a long way again to right yourself. On the entire walk I passed two members of the public urinating in the street which I found most unusual but which fitted with the smell I had noticed on a couple of occasions. This supplemented by the graffiti which daubed almost every building for a considerable length gave the city a ‘dirty’ feel and yet contradictorily there was little to no rubbish or litter to be seen anywhere on the streets or pavements. The type of graffiti it is worth mentioning was not the beautiful creative kind, which I can easily appreciate, rather a rough, quick and lawless kind. It became apparent that the area I was to stay in was a gentrified area of relative wealth; the graffiti became less frequent, the buildings stacked higher and the typology changed to a tenement block. One which often and in most cases featured balconies, some of which were ornate and all were five or six stories high. A height noticeably taller than the tenement blocks I was familiar with in Glasgow and a height which was frustrating in the specific instance I arrived because the sunset looked to be a colourful one. I could catch tantalising glimpses of the purple yellow orange sky and the wisps of golden cloud and yet could not find a view from which to fully appreciate the situation due to the length of the streets and the height of the block.

Ultimately, I had to be satisfied with just that as the light had faded by the time I finally arrived at my destination on Williberg-Alexis Strasse – number 12 which was a ground floor flat. The entrance to the street was a heavy wooden door, which opened into a private close, through another of the same type and across an open internal courtyard, which was dark and had no hint of the sunset due to the height of the surroundings and the close quarters. I reached my quarters where I was to stay and planned to explore the city properly with a greater sense of direction at next light.


Luckily Berlin’s gentle transition into fall is making for a much more pleasant start to the week ahead of further exploring the vibrant, spill out lined streets and getting under the skin of Kreuzberg. To help us do so, a few of us from Studio Group A kick started our weekend with a creative sustainability tour of “alternative Kreuzberg”.

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Larisa Tsvetkova’s enthusiasm to help us was impeccable – the tour lasted well over the 3 hours it was meant to. Her strong belief for co-operative housing, community gardens, self-organized cultural spaces and ecological architecture in Kreuzberg is reflective of the resilient community spirit that can be found within reunified Berlin.