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Subkultur | Berlin

Part 2 Dissertation 2013
Nicholas Tansella
University of Huddersfield Huddersfield UK
Seemingly forever in a transitional phase, Berlin is a city that has developed with an underlying attitude that celebrates a creative and expressive freedom. The German capital that exists today owes its evolution to a long line of extraordinary events that ultimately resulted in a youthful, discontented population residing in the former western state appropriating and inhabiting the autonomous derelict cityscape of the soviet sector following the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. These spaces were immediately occupied and amended to suit a range of uses, subsequently becoming the bases within which subcultural groups experimented and expanded in the celebration of the present, thus resulting in the thriving creative industry that evokes the city today. Unlike its similar European counterparts, one cannot define an identity of Berlin through icons or architecture as its appearance does not reveal the varied meanings of the city. An identity lies within the ill-defined city fragments from which creative cultures evolved, in the shadow of its architecture.

The study examines the development of subcultural groups throughout divided and reunified Berlin, with a focus towards the creative sector and the ‘Techno’ movement which both defined the German capital throughout the early 1990’s. From primarily collating the conditions that catalysed a euphoric response following reunification, the research directs itself towards the reuse strategies employed within subcultural groups, finally outlining how the significance of aesthetic and atmospheric quality within the inhabited structures contrastingly developed between the two sub-genres. Initially, creative groups relied on the lack of building ownership to appropriate experimental transformations that would heighten creativity and output, although as ownership was reassigned to conventional buildings, the increase of ‘temporary use’ restricted such strategies, with the surplus space becoming vital in accommodating an expanding, international creative population. In comparison, the research indicates how the ‘Techno’ movement evolved from an initial desire centred on spontaneity when discovering and reusing abandoned structures, towards a specific relationship with Berlin’s industrial ruins, originally encouraged through an imported sound that was influenced by the similar fragmented cityscape of Detroit.

Nicholas Tansella

Tutor(s)
Mr Gerard Bareham
2013
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