“Berlin ist arm aber sexy (Berlin is poor but sexy).” Written by Michael Lafond in magazine Exberliner May07. This article ‘Experimental homes’, features some of the funded housing re-development projects in Berlin, ‘A creative class of new Berliner has developed its own innovative housing projects.’ It wrote. I was excited about these projects, and eager to take a tour around these areas.

“If you like to see some of them, you need not go far. Just take a closer look at where you live. Perhaps you find here more charming than any of those listed in the magazine.” Alex said.

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Freienwalder Straße 20, sits a Mietshaus of around 20 apartments, lives a group of renting community who choose to live cooperatively with their neighbours. When Ilona and Peter discovered this place 5 years ago, the house was so run down that beyond living condition. They then found the owner and negotiated a workable contract between them. As renters, they are willing to fix up their apartments, and to maintain the house environment, in return with cheap rental for a certain period of time.

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Since then, they called friends and friends called friends, soon after the apartments were filled up and now you can hardly find an empty space here. Together they built up an affordable cooperative, with a leader who helps negotiating with the owner and other duels, a treasurer who helps looking after the money issues. These renting members connect wires, patch up walls and ceilings, de-construct and re-construct their rented apartments, mostly at their own costs. Hence, besides cost constrain, each individual has lots of freedom to do what they like with their home.

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I am delighted to visit a few apartments in Feienwalder Straße 20. Though their living condition might seem rough, I felt they’re generally satisfied with their innovative and creative experimental homes. For us who are temporally living here, we truly enjoy its ambiance.

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