Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Touring the Haus - temporary urban art gallery in Berlin

The Haus will be destroyed at the end of May.

On a wet and windy Saturday morning in April we emerge from the Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn station. Clutching our umbrellas we walk along Tauentzienstrasse passing KaDeWe and dodging the crowds of tourists and shoppers. As we turn into Nürnbergerstrasse we spot a long queue of locals and tourists undeterred by the rain. They are patiently waiting in line to enter the building at number 68/69. 

From the outside it is a grey and ugly construction. What is all the fuss about? - one may ask. The only giveaway is the rather large and colourful graffitied H sprayed on the facade. This is no ordinary building. This is The Haus. For eight weeks only an old bank in the heart of the west Berlin shopping district has been converted into an art gallery. Each of the 108 spaces, including the toilets, corridors and staircases, have been turned into unique works of art by 165 local and international urban artists. 

We are called into the building 10 minutes before the start of our pre-booked tour. After paying the ticket and leaving our coats, bags and mobile phones, we are welcomed to The Haus. Our guide, a member of the art collective Drink and Draw, tells us how the project began. The property now belongs to investors who will tear it down and replace it with luxury apartments. But before the building is demolished at the end of May, the developers have agreed to hand over the keys to the street art group The Dixons. It was their idea to turn the building into a temporary art gallery. 

Our tour lasts two and a half hours and takes us through the five floors, where we see works by Case Maclaim, Stohead, El Bocho, Emess, 1UP, Herakut, Klebebande, Insane51, Rotkaeppchen & Goliath, Nick Platt and Paul Punk, just to name a few. Our guide tells us anecdotes about the building, the rooms, the artists and their work. He also points out different styles and techniques. Every room is unique. Some rooms are extremely colourful, others are dark or have black and white patterns. One room has been turned into a forest, while another was entirely decorated using a black marker pen. Some artwork was created with tape, while other rooms feature lots of paint. By the end of the tour we feel like we have been through a magical journey.

If you want to avoid the queues I strongly suggest booking a tour onlineThe cost is €10 per person (€4 for children) and will make the visit all the more interesting. Please note that photography is not allowed so put your phones and cameras away and enjoy the experience with all your senses. "The Haus was created to be destroyed" so make sure you get there in time. 
This picture was taken outside the building 

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