Take a glamorous and culturally dynamic capital, add a couple of devastating World Wars and a Cold War, then build a wall that will divide it in two for 30 years. Then tear down the wall and start rebuilding the city, but this time add generations of young creative minds from around the world. Sound like a mad science experiment?
Maybe, but what you get is precisely Berlin: an eclectic metropolis with lots of spaces to convert and reuse, an ingrained predilection for change, a youthful and tolerant mentality, and an organized approach that nicely unites these elements to sidestep the chaos that defines most big cities.
“Paris is always Paris, and Berlin is never Berlin,” said former French Culture Minister Jack Lang in 2001. Back then, the city’s skyline had more cranes and scaffoldings than roofs, but Lang’s quote is still valid today. This city keeps changing, evolving, transforming, and the Berlin you are looking at now will not be the same Berlin next time you visit.