A former train station converted into a public park next to a commercial estate, the Wriezener Bahnhof site, which also houses one of Berlin’s most famous – some might even say notorious – night clubs, typifies urban development in the German capital. Only a few minutes’ walk from Strausberger Platz, the site borders on the Spree river and a residential area.
How It All Started
When it was built in 1903, Wriezener Bahnhof was part of Schlesischer Bahnhof. Originally known as Schlesischer Bahnhof – Wriezener Bahnsteig, the station was renamed in 1924. As the name suggests, the line that ran from here connected Berlin with a town called Wriezen, which is in Märkisch-Oderland, about 70km (45 miles) north-east of the capital.
In its early years, it served as a lifeline that brought vital supplies such as fresh produce and fish into the city.
After 1949, only freight and mail trains stopped here. In 2005, demolition started on the tracks, including a signal box dating back to 1895 and listed as a historic building.
Wriezener Bahnhof 1992 source: By Roehrensee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Retail, Culture and Recreation
Parts of the now vacant site were subsequently converted into a retail park, which today includes a large DIY store and a Metro hypermarket. During a public consultation process, students at a nearby school came up with the idea of building an outdoor sports complex on the roof of the hypermarket. Their proposal was taken up and there is now an 8,700m2 (2.15 acres) AstroTurf football pitch on top of the building.
The retail park only takes up a fraction of the site. Much of the remaining space is given over to a public park largely designed by residents, students at the nearby school and local businesses. This includes a “green classroom”, an allotment tended by students.
Urban Gardening, Vegan Beer Garden and Berghain
There is also an urban gardening project open to the general public and aimed at reclaiming the site for ecological usage by planting vegetable plots and creating a functioning eco system shared by animals, plants and humans.
Every park needs a beer garden, and while Volkspark Friedrichshain features a thatched cottage, the “Wilde Hase” at Wriezener Bahnhof is a converted engine shed which offers a selection of beers and vegan dishes and sometimes hosts small parties or events. It also benefits from being next door to what is probably Berlin’s best-known techno club – the Berghain.
The legendary club has long been a household name for fans of techno music and dance culture all over the world. Parties start on Saturday nights and don’t stop until Monday morning and guests often queue up well into Sunday morning to get in. On weeknights, the Berghain hosts concerts and other cultural events such as exhibitions and theatre performances.
Wriezener Bahnhof – One of Many Projects All Across Berlin
The site of the former Wriezener Bahnhof exemplifies a development that has been playing out in the German capital in recent years. All across Berlin, there are many similar urban regeneration projects that give the general public a say in the consultation and design process in order to turn abandoned and forgotten parts of the city into new and exciting attractions.