A106. Utopia & Planning

Research, thought games and program for unrealized ideas and plans

The Berlin federal highway or Autobahn 106 (abbreviation: A106) was originally included in Berlin’s land use plan as a southern bypass leading from Schöneberg via Kreuzberg and Alt-Treptow to Köpenick. It was intended to intersect with another autobahn, the A102, at Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg.

Until German reunification, the motorway was planned under the name A16, but plans have since been discontinued. It might be said that the plans for the motorway helped make Kreuzberg the “creative district” it is today. The plans led to evictions, demolitions, and vacancies, to neglect and obscurity, and to the construction of the New Kreuzberg Center social housing block with barely any back-facing windows. These conditions made the neighborhood affordable for migrant workers. It was once assumed that they would stay in Germany for only a short time, and could therefore live in the area until the motorway was built. But the area also attracted young people from all over Germany. Houses were squatted and a resistance movement was formed. In the 1980s, the International Building Exhibition explored not only new buildings (IBA Neu) but also methods of “careful urban renewal” of existing structures. These new approaches had a long-term impact on how German inner cities were dealt with.

The debate and discourses, the dream of a different way of life, and the living spaces available – these were the seeds that gave rise to today’s art scene and so-called “creative economy” in Kreuzberg. Sally Below continues to explore these ideas as a theme in various formats. This shows that ideas, visions and utopias that go unrealized can still influence the future and have a profound structural influence.