Berlin Unlimited Festival was organised by three different organisations: Urban Transcripts, Collage Lab and Guerilla Architects.
Urban Transcripts is a UK based organisation created in 2010. Its mission is “the advancement and production of work that betters the city, improves the built environment, enhances the quality of life in it, and furthers the understanding of the city as a complex phenomenon”. Through the organisation of different city festivals every year, Urban Transcripts invites people to explore the urban space in a participatory and cross-disciplinary way. Urban Transcripts took part in the organisation of major festivals such as Berlin Unlimited in 2014 and London, the (n)ever-changing city in 2012.
Collage Lab is a “cycle of competitions for prospective thinking in terms of urban planning, architecture, political, social and economical spaces in a global scale”. Based in Berlin, the organisation has been active in the search for new strategies, which would provide an adequate urban space to the community of Berlin, considering cultural characteristics, economic developments and political circumstances. Collage Lab’s latest project is Post-Capitalist City, a think tank founded to explore the question of what would be the city of tomorrow.
Guerilla Architects is an “international group of architects that work on the forgotten and unused resources of our cities”. Founded in London but currently based in Germany, Guerilla Architects have used empty spaces in urban areas to apply their potential for the society. As an example, the organisation created The Diver - Restaurant Experience project, which uses abandoned places in Berlin for “pop-up restaurants”.
Berlin Unlimited took place during 7 days in October 2014. Created by the previously mentioned organisations, Berlin Unlimited is a transdisciplinary festival gathering arts, architecture and urban discourses to establish a picture of the contemporary Berlin 25 years after the fall of the wall. The festival consisted in workshops, exhibitions, lectures, conferences, film screenings, creative caterings, performances, guided tours and urban parties with artists and special guests from all over the world. Wide range of activities provided an opportunity to gather and exchange ideas. International call for ideas for the city of Berlin launched in March 2014 resulted in three exhibitions of the festival: Arts and Creative Medias, Theory and Research and Architecture and Urban Design, where best projects selected by a jury were presented. According to the organisers, the festival was made “to invite all Berlin enthusiasts to discover a complete narrative of the city based on the contemporary artistic production in context”. Most of the events were free, prices for symposium and festival party ranged between 6 and 10 euros. There was also a possibility to gain access to the whole festival, including 7 days of workshops and expert-led activities, for 240 euros. This pricing policy provided access for everyone interested in taking part in the festival.
Berlin Unlimited – at the heart of the challenges for the 21st Century
“Berlin is no city, it is a way of life” – this is a slogan which welcomes newly arrived passengers at the airport and sums up the uniqueness of the place. Berlin can be seen as Europe in a nutshell, a once divided city overcoming its bipolarity in a once divided Europe. Berlin stands no longer as a name for a place but rather as a concept in itself. As nowhere else in the world, the limits of Berlin have been changing and evolving, transforming the urban fabric as the way the city is used, lived and comprehended. Nowadays, Berlin is perceived as the international capital of freedom. Is that reputation a myth? What can we learn from Berlin? It is a multifaceted city and it fascinates both Berliners and visitors in all its aspects: the art scene, architecture, urban development, landscapes, history and politics.
Berlin Unlimited is an example of a festival for the 21st Century. Its aim was to bring together an interdisciplinary collection of work in the arts and creative media, architecture and urban design, theory and research, that reveal, reflect on, challenge, and reform, the limits and the limitations of the city; in its past, present, and future. It provided a platform for exchanging ideas and for exploring all kinds of imaginations in people’s minds, far beyond Berlin’s own boundaries.
Do you agree that Berlin Unlimited Festival responds to the needs of “the programming for the 21st Century”?
Capitalizing on the fact that we all come from different parts of the world, could you think of an example from your country/city, which corresponds with the challenges of the 21st Century?