The Culture Island in Sendling
The space outside the Gasteig HP8, aka the Am Kulturkraftwerk plaza (“plaza at the cultural power plant”), is now more than just a place to park your bike. Conceived and designed by the young creatives of the collective Die Städtischen, the Kulturinsel occupies a hexagonal space defined with colourful floor markings and features custom-made wooden benches, raised planting beds, a community sharing shelf and flexible mobile modules that can be arranged top form a stage, table or activity area.
Until October, the Kulturinsel offers new space for creative activity. Open to the public, everyone can visit and play here, and put their spontaneous ideas into practice. Its creators’ aim is to provide an oasis right in the city – a flexible space where people can hang out, make music or do some gardening.
Die Städtischen is a collective that aims to use public spaces in creative ways. Already realised projects include the greening of unused backyards, a play on a road junction and short films projected onto the walls of buildings. In the summer of 2021, they ran a weekly concert series the passageway to the S-Bahn at the Gasteig in Haidhausen. By playing in and with public spaces, the collective aims to provoke reflection and to celebrate life in the city.
Plenty of motivation, some time to spare and a hands-on approach is what it takes to be a part of Die Städtischen, as Joline Bui and Daniel Wolfram, who planned the Kulturinsel at the Gasteig together with Anouar Mahmoudi, Joost Pantelmann and many others explain when we interviewed them. About 120 people belong to the collective, who describe themselves on their website as “a project of young people from a range of disciplines. From us for everyone.” The dearth of cultural and social life during the Corona period proved to be a powerful incentive for many to take action and transform their environment.
Joline and Daniel, Die Städtischen are a collective of young people of many backgrounds, including dancers, architects, musicians and carpenters. What keeps you together?
Joline: We are a pool of creativity, of people who like to dream and think out of the box. We are united by the standpoint that not every commitment and action needs to have a monetary incentive. Our motivation comes from wanting to make a difference in our city, to strengthen social cohesion.
Daniel: We want to motivate as many people as possible to rediscover public spaces and to exploit the potential of spaces that were previously unused. The Kulturinsel in the Gasteig HP8 is an inspiring example of how public space can be actively used in creative ways: The space was quite grey and is now full of life and colour.
What is there to discover on this “island”?
Daniel: We met on the site to brainstorm ideas, and that gave birth to our vision for this space: we wanted to create an open, space in which there was no obligation to consume and which could be adapted by its users themselves. The furniture can be moved about and used in many different ways; we want the place to be full of life and activity.
Give us a few specific examples of what’s possible on the Kulturinsel.
Joline: If someone wants to spontaneously put on a play, the wooden modules can be arranged to form an amphitheatre. There will be a games afternoon that people are invited to take part in, there will be comedy open mics, panel discussions and spontaneous concerts. The Kulturinsel is both a stage and a modern agora.
Daniel: The Kulturinsel is dynamic and always whatever people want it to be. There is a community sharing shelf and a notice board where everyone can share their ideas. This allows a community to form. We want everyone to notice that here is a place where we can go whenever we like and that makes us feel good.
An unknown island has to first be discovered: How do you want to inspire the neighbours and the rest of the city to actively take part in shaping the Kulturinsel?
Joline: People probably have to get used to the fact that they can simply move the furniture around. Already at the opening, we demonstrated how the modules can be arranged in different ways, allowing the space to be adapted to any occasion.
Daniel: We planned our opening party to be an icebreaker for later on. We hope that the Kulturinsel in front of the Gasteig HP8 will in future take on a life of its own.
A lot of thought and, above all, a lot of time go into a project like this. What motivates you to dedicate your spare time to projects like this one?
Daniel: My motivation, both personal and as a landscape architect is to improve the quality of life in the city: As much as about 75 percent of public space is used for roads and cars. This is a very outdated concept. We need to completely rethink public space and the ways in which it can be used.
Joline: I really enjoy being involved in the cultural scene because you meet a lot of interesting people. Working together with friends on projects like this is a great way to bond. Much of it is down to chance and spontaneity, and that gives every moment that special something.
More about Die Städtischen (in German)
If you have any questions about the Kulturinsel, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Text: Anna Steinbauer and Maria Zimmerer