Call me weird – but I have a soft spot for abandoned places (as you can easily tell from past posts here). It’s their history in an ever-changing urban environment that I am most interested in, the beauty of decay and the oppressive notion of a place filled with stories untold, now forgotten. It’s the astonishment upon hearing such tales of former times that drives me to these spots, but sometimes it’s the wondering mind that poses such questions while wandering around the city.
One of these sites that came to my attention during my daily commute for what seems now ages is the former GDR’s Ministry of Building, which is recently demolished and archaeologically examined. The site seems goulish: An abandoned building at the city’s very heart, only within a stone’s throw of Berlin’s medieval founding site, sits there, calmly above the roaring traffic of Gertraudenstraße. Its spacious courtyard, once allowing to be easily viewed from the street is now cluttered with huge piles of sand and debris. The overburden is stored in neat and perfectly elevated lines of piles: two in a parallel set and another one, facing the street. Risking to sound somewhat pathetic, the debris raises like mountains from the ground and one can wander around them whilst feeling strangely far away from the loud street, isolated among these urban dunes devoid of people and – today – of demolition workers.
Enough the rhapsody: The building and its typical architectural style are reminiscent of GDR times. Grey blocks of concrete facade and narrow windows, built in cheap and efficient prefabricated construction. The usual sight: rusty blinds hang insensately from their sockets, windows shattered and a variety of grass, fern and other greens sprawling over the place. However, the demolition site breathes a certain desolation that differs from how places like Neukölln’s abandoned allotment gardens morbidly appeal. The endless Grey and the sand’s filthy Brown give it a dismal tone. Yet a strangely pleasing one.
Bordering the spacious demolition site is another big abandoned building, situated at Brüderstraße. The faded signs tell it used to be a teen clothing store. Anyway – enough told, see for yourself or maybe even visit the place on your own!