Spindlersfeld and the abandoned ruins of a 19th century factory

A visit to the abandoned chemical cleaning factory at the Spree.
23 Jun ’17 by Sara Architecture

During our boat trip on the Müggelsee, my hawkish eyes spotted an abandoned industry complex on the right side of the Spree. A quick Google search told me that the enormous buildings belonged to the Spindler dynasty, who industrialized the chemical cleaning business in the late 19th century. This part of Berlin – Spindlersfeld – was named after the family’s heritage before Berlin had become Berlin at all.

The Spindler complex was so gigantic that they did not only built the original plant but also the houses next to it, in order to offer their workers affordable living spaces. As we passed by the ruins, I had to make my friends stop and let me out at the shore immediately.

View from the water

The biggest question when facing architectural heirlooms like Spindlersfeld is always: Why the hell is this area still undeveloped? It’s literally a goldmine, especially in Berlins dire housing situation. Spindlersfeld is right at the water, it’s 10 minutes from the inner city, it’s 5 minutes from the picturesque old town of Köpenick.

But immediately when I crossed over the fence, I saw that the former cleaning factory was in fact being developed. There was even an official sort of “information and sales office”, and a few excavators scattered across the estate.

Trying to find an entrance into the building

Wasserstadt Spindlersfeld: A work in standtstill

And yet, Spindersfeld doesn’t look like a work in progress. It looks like work is standing still. Another Google shows me that indeed, the landmark protected buildings are going to be part of the so called “Wasserstadt Spindlersfeld”, a luxury housing project for rich fucks – with generic town houses and the whole boring shebang of Berlin suburbia.

This real estate project was supposed to be finished by 2015 according to Tagesspiegel, but the politics seem to be difficult. The neighbors don’t want ugly towers stealing their view, for example, so the development plans have to continuously be updated and extended.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to create something out of this beautiful, historical complex. But yet again it becomes such a farce to see another great site become a game of speculation, politics and money. And for what? For an average of 4000€ per square meter? Urgh.

I tried to sneak inside the buildings, but all the doors, windows and other holes in the walls had been shut. If my friends hadn’t been waiting in the boat, I would have tried harder, but that’s maybe for another time – if it’s not too late then.