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Gängeviertel Hamburg

published on 2012-08-27 by Sara
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The Gängeviertel in Hamburg has produced a lot of media coverage in the last couple of years. The Gängeviertel used to describe the narrow alleys between densely built buildings in the old (and some new) parts of Hamburg. So narrow in fact that most of these quarters were torn down at the end of the 19th century. Too many diseases and a lacking infrastructure made it impossible for the growing population to find a sanitary home. The last massive demolition was accounted for in the 1960s.

But: the area around Valentinskamp is still somewhat in tact. When in 2009 many artists and citizens occupied the buildings to protest in peace against a planned demolition by a foreign investor, they achieved a monumental success: the city bought back the area and is currently planning a complete re-do. The aim is to make the area, nowadays a cultural hub for Hamburg, an affordable part of the city for artists, full on with apartments and monument protection to keep it the way it is.

This success should interest Berliners too. What about Tempelhof? What about all the rundown buildings that are now the target of big investors who want to build townhouses and offices? What about Mediaspree? Same story, different city. Gentrification issues and demographic changes are omnipresent.

But the story of the Gängeviertel – nevermind the fact that there is still a long way ahead for everyone who is involved – is a good example for why these protests are most definitely worth it. Many parties, exhibitions and readings have taken place since the takeover three years ago. There’s now the ever lasting question of financing the properties and the organizations. But after the redevelopment of the Gängeviertel, everything involved with it will be in the hands of the Gängeviertel Genossenschaft to self-regulate the buildings uses.

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