Once a housing paradise for artists, squatters and activists, the city of Berlin is now suffering from exponentially rising rents taking over the city. Whilst still attracting international trendsetters, who also play their part in driving up the prices, the Berlin municipality is running behind in building housing. The lack of affordable apartments is not only a frustration for those who freshly arrive, but even more severe for those who are now struggling to afford their neighborhood, after having lived there all of their lives.
Private foreign investors are being blamed for trying to maximize their profits without concerns for local communities. Newly built residential projects often remain anonymous investments, which they also manifest in the ever same anonymous architectural designs. Berlin based artist Dorothea Nold has counteracted this with her own visions of future housing projects — put up as fake real estate ads at various locations in the city.
Nold created organic and colorful renderings for the fictional buildings, which in her opinion would be a better choice to develop into real estate: “We missed the chance to develop all those empty space differently.” The fake ads have been placed in front of those last remaining spaces, only for one of the ads Nold was given official permission. “Citizens are not being asked for their permission when investors make such drastic changes in their city, that’s why I thought it is okay to put them without permission up to give attention to this issue!”
With her art project, she also criticizes the high level of anonymity that surrounds most new real estate developments in Berlin. Probably bought off by international investors and left empty, there is hardly any life happening in and around these “glass and concrete towers”. Because these fake ads actually contained her real phone number, Nold received over 200 calls from interested investors all over the world. Most of them were German, who obviously didn’t get the joke, but she also received calls from Sweden, Hong Kong and Australia, which proved her impression that Berlin’s housing market has turned into a playground for international investors.