Saturday, March 9, 2019

A Walk Through Hansaviertel

Hansaviertel is considered Berlin's smallest district, caught between the River Spree and the Tiergarten. Dramatically damaged after the WWII bombings, it was slowly redesigned and reshaped at the end of the 1950s, beginning of the 60s, thanks to the active involvement of architects belonging to the Bauhaus movement, such as Alvar Aalto, Egor Ereimann, Walter Gropius or Oscar Niemeyer.
The name - Hansaviertel - was as its main streets are named after the big independent trade cities in Northern Europe, a network created from the beginning of the 12th century, such as Hamburg, Anklam, Greifswald or Lüneburg.

I started my walk from the U9 Hansaviertel train station, that was open only in 1961 - when the reconstruction of the area was almost finished. From outside, it is shaped as a rectangular long box, looking like painted in a haste during some creative hobby art workshop. 

Opposite, there is the Hansabibliothek, one of the first open access libraries in Berlin. It is also rectangularly shaped, and has an interior garden - closed as for now for reconstruction works - where during the summer the visitors can read outside. 

On the other side of the road, on Altonaerstr., GRIPS Theater displays another playful visual outlook. The choice of the graphic representation is not random, as it is a theatre mostly focused on a young and adolescent audience. Most of the plays are exploring the ways in which the public shall be directly involved in the creation of art. Sounds like a place I should come back soon for understanding better this aesthetic perspective.

For the next minutes am mostly surrounded by anonymous over 10-storey high blocks of apartments, until I arriving on Flensburgerstr., with its freshly painted classical building, hosting at their ground level small art galleries or children-friendly caffés.

But wandering through this small island of classical old flair doesn't last longer, as I am again kept company by Tetris-like structures, made of relatively affordable materials, aimed at hosting as many families as possible in comfortable yet space-limited apartments.

The splashes of colours create a little diversity in a mass of grey buildings. After the war, West Germany needed to offer affordable accommodation to its middle class, and such real estate projects were the solution. Similarly, in the extreme West side of the city, Gropiusstadt was a offering a much larger alternative, aimed especially at the working class and low-income families.

Happily, there are also couple of human-scale - 2-storey small constructions, that remind me of some part of Siemensstadt that I recently explored.

The brutalist - read ugly - style of the Akademie der Künste might be discouraging a visit, but the concerts and literary events held there - especially on the occasion of the Literature Festival - are high class. I've been here a couple of years ago at a concert by the very talented Sanda Weigl and was impressed by the high technical quality of the sound.

Works of art are spread around the building, adding a creative note to the sober, unfriendly outlook.

When feeling overwhelmed by so many constructions and grey colours, a walk to the small park nearby saves the day, especially when you are too lazy to walk as far as Tiergarten.

Walking the empty alleys give a peaceful, almost poetic feeling.

After a short but welcomed meditative break, I am back in the concrete jungle, trying - unsuccessfully to understand the meaning - technical mostly - of the right side concrete giant tetraeder. Cannot be an elevator or an emergency exit and if it was supposed to be an aesthetical adornment, it went completely wrong. Made a not to self to try to go inside the building one day.

The enormous green spaces surrounding the buildings are well planned, therefore when the concrete is too mentally overwhelming, you have the blue sky to spend your summer days. I can only imagine how everything looks beautified when the trees are getting back their green leaves.

With its welcoming monotony, Hansaviertel taught me some interesting lessons about urban living and Bauhaus architecture and although without the mesmerizing effect the view of beauty instantly produces, it shares the feeling of a silent wisdom and sometimes it might be just enough. 
As I am exploring more and more aspects of the Bauhaus movement, I can't wait to see what intellectual discoveries the next discovery will bring to me.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Bauhaus Dutch Architecture from the English Quarter

After I've discovered this week Onkel Toms Hütte in Zehlendorf, the urban project of Bruno Taut, I was curious to see, photograph and understand another project of him, in the other side of the city: Schillerpark in Wedding. 
Included since 2008 in the UNESCO World Heritage, it was considered one of the biggest city project of the Weimar Republic, aimed to offer proper accommodation to workers, functionaries and middle-class civil servants.

I started the journey at U6 Rehberge train station. Followed Müllerstraße and the blue direction shields leading to the Schillerstraße Siedlung (housing development project). The streets around are bearing English-sounding names, although not all of them necessarily belonging politically to the UK: Dubliner-, Glasgower-, Liverpool-, Oxford-, Bristolstraße. Hence the area was also called: English Quarter.  

However, the style rather reminds of the Dutch architecture, with an exclusive focus on red bricks. Some entrances, that I've also seen in some areas in Moabit, look like tunnel entrances, in a 3D creative display of small bricks that give depth to the entrance.
Although the style is predominantly Bauhaus, decorative elements pertaining to the Jugendstil are frequent, which confers to some buildings a specific personality and unique style. The red bricks are used not only for the blocks of apartments, but also for other buildings included in the area, including the local 1-story church. 

The materials are cheap, plaster and bricks, displayed on the 2-4 storeys buildings. According to the plans, each apartments was assigned 40 sqm., apparently enough for the needs of the bottom middle class. The area was also called 'red' for a reason other than the colour of the buildings: here there were living many opposants to the Nazi regime, most of them communists.

After the war, the project was further extended, and the different style - predominantly plaster as the construction materials at the end of 1950s, when the works were done, were relatively hard to find - is distinguishable. 

The architecture is mostly monotonous, the kind of outlook specific to high concentration of people, but it breathes a certain sence of quietness and comfort. I rarely see children on the street or bikes, and the place seems like almost lost in time.

Given the UNESCO World Heritage status, Schillerpark Siedlung theoretically has a dedicated information point. Hosted in a curvaceous shaped public convenience - simply put, public restroom - one of the few designed in 1915 by the architect Heinrich Schweizer still preserved, it is out of service as for the time of my visit. Disappointing, especially given the 100 Years Bauhaus celebrated this year.

On the other end of the park, the cubic geometry is amplified by the diversion between red bricks and the outdoors axis of the balconies. The buildings define a square, with a big green space in their middle. No shops or commercial points, as you need to go to the main street for some purchases. 

In the middle of all the orderly buildings, there is Schillerpark - or Chillpark, as it is nicknamed. A small forest, with hills and heaps, from where you can fill your lungs with fresh healthy air. If not the airplanes landing to Tegel every couple of minutes, I would have mention the majestic quietness too, but there is in fact any. There are no playgrounds, but children can easily and freely create their own games in the green areas. 
Meanwhile, there is enough space to do your morning jogging, walk your dog or when the weather allows to spend some quality time outdoors in the company of a good book.

Although my visit in the Englisch Quarter was relatively short, and besides the park and the red-bricked houses there were not too many attractions to discover, I am happy I had the chance to see a completely different Bauhaus project. Plus, I've been for the first time in an area where you rarely - if ever - go unless you live or know someone who's living there. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Discovering the Bauhaus Heritage in Zehlendorf

Out of the Onkel Toms Hütte metro station, I am welcomed by rows of colours houses, in some of my favorite colours. Although I've been more than once in this area, on the U3 metro line, direction Krümme Lanke, in Zehlendorf, I've rarely paid attention to the architecture. Which is a pitty, as this part of Berlin shares an unique Bauhaus architectural style. 
After an intensive tour of Siemensstadt last week exploring this heritage, celebrating its 100 years since its foundation in 2019, I am here to discover a different side of Bauhaus displayed by this off-the-radar Berlin destination.

Neighbouring the stylish Lichterfelde and Grunewald, Zehlendorf is the middle-class buffer area. The Siedlung (translated as a housing development project) Onkel Toms Hütte (in English, Uncle Tom's Cabin, inspired by the book with the same name by the American author Harriet Beecher Stowe, that was given to a restaurant in the area opened at the end of the 19th century) was created in the second half of the 1920s. The local entrepreneur Adolf Sommerfeld bought a piece of land here and wanted to create housing facilities here. Meanwhile, the metro station was inaugurated in 1929 and the project coordinated by the Bauhaus architect Bruno Taut was finished soon after. 
Labelled as 'bolschevik', Taut - who also designed the Britz Siedlung, as well as the Schillerpark construction project in Wedding, Berlin - left Germany first for Japan and then for Turkey, where his skills and knowledge were requested to contribute to the urban modernisation of the country, following the reforms of Atatürk. 
The main contributor to the project, Adolf - later Andrew - Sommerfeld, who also developed several projects in Klein Machnow, besides supporting the expansion of the metro lines in the Zehlendorf area, among others, was also forced to leave Germany during the National-Socialist regime, because Jewish. After wandering to France, Israel, England and Switzerland, he returned in Germany in the 1950s, when this part of Berlin was under American administration.

What distinguishes this Bauhaus project from other similar urban interventions - such as the White City in Alt Reinickendorf - is the diversity of colours used both for the facades as for the doors. 
2-3- story buildings in vivid blue, yellow, bordeaux and brown splashed between big layers of white paint are unique among all the other creations of the Bauhaus school. Therefore, the urban project was often nicknames also Papageisiedlung, where Papagai stands for parrot
For each blocks of buildings, Taut developed different models of doors, which matching a variety of choices of colours. 

You will hardly find all around the area any shops or merchant points, as all the commercial activites are concentrated in the immediate vicinity of the metro station. Once in a while, in the corner, one can see a hair salon or maybe a yoga studio, but anything else. 

Zehlendorf is one of the areas with a high concentration of nature and gardens. Although there are not too many playgrounds, many houses have enough space for building up their own small park for the little ones. However, for a long nature walk, the alleys are generously bordered by trees and the parks are real slices of forest, with big lakes and bushes where you can easily forget that you are still in the city.
The choice of small buildings, horizontally expanded, compared to the usual intense vertical concentration imitating sky scrapers, but in a more 'proletarian' variant in Gropiusstadt, suits very much the environment, to which it collaborates instead of expanding at its expense.

The colours bring diversity to a very calculated urban monotony. The 2,000 units included in the Siedlung are offered a different outdoor vibe although the plans show a similar structure of the internal design planning. 

Without fences surrounding the entrances, the houses are safely opened to the outside streets, winning a little bit more of green space but also displaying a relatively risk-free attitude. Why to be afraid of the neighbours and hide yourself behind a fence?

My path leads me from the main road of the Argentinische Allee, to the more quiet areas of Im Gestell or Waldhüttepfad

In the Kiez - Neighbourhood - is just another quiet Thursday morning, with rare passersby walking their dogs, but not too much local vibe. On the other side of the metro entrance, like every time this day of the week, there is a relatively small food market that just opened, mostly with food trucks.

Before heading back, I make a small tour of the main shopping avenue. Initially, when Sommerfeld bought the piece of land that will soon become the Siedlung, he wanted to build a many-story shopping center. Given the financial and technical limitations, the project was brought to the ground, with a circular structure where various shops, bakeries and small restaurants are hosted. Practically, on your way back from work to home, you can stop here to buy whatever you need and want, and eventually have a coffee - vegan and bio variants are also included. On the Ladenstraße (shopping avenue) it is concentrated the social life of the Siedlung and although everything is indoors, there are a couple of enjoyable places, including a very small bookstore, provided with the last editions of top notch local and international books.
Although it kept raining all the time, the colorful buildings changed the grey mood, as did the excitement of getting to know some new episode of the Berlin history and architecture. With more Bauhaus discovery planned this year, it looks like I will have a lot of such happy moments in the coming weeks and months.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

6 Easy Tips to Improve your Language Skills (without using an App)

I was lucky enough to grow up in a very complex linguistic environment, with at least 3 complicated languages regularly spoken at home. As a kid, it might be confusing, absurd and annoying. Besides keeping asking why we are not 'normal', like all the other families and speak a simple local language, I remember my very rebelious years when I simply refused to accept the fact that I should learn or speak a certain language (let's say, French). Which language ended up being one of my few places of stability and comfort, in a life that brought me all over the world and a multitude of languages. Every time I am in a home where I am surrounded by French books, especially those from the Editions de Poche collection, I instantly remember my childhood and my mother's working room, from where I was snatching some books, not few of them by authors forbidden in the old country.
As I was growing up, the pressure of learning languages increased too, as my professional and personal life was becoming more and more complex. I've learned some languages for pleasure, some to better communicate with my new friends or a partner, some because they were part of my professional assignments. I had to forget some of them to make place for some new ones, or remember some, when life brought me again in the old places of my childhood. I wish to have enough time and dedication to learn at least 3-4 more complex languages, one of them Mandarin.
After a life full of adventures and life experiences of all kinds, 10 years ago I landed in Berlin, Germany, with a very precarious collection of words in the local languages and unclear life plans. No friends, no relatives, just me and my boxes full of books. My plan was to take a break for a very busy corporate life I was very proud of but was somehow eating me and my life alive, get on a short Sabbatical to finish writing my PhD, and eventually try to put my life together. 
My PhD was successfully written altough I've decided that the everyday academic life was as deceiving as my previous corporate, institutional and media lives. Professionally and personally, I had perfectly human downs and ups, and I ended up getting back to business life, although on a relatively smaller level, while building up my own business. Meanwhile, I've learned and improved a couple of languages, while my German was very much lagging behind. It's a common place that while you are living in Berlin, you hardly need to use your German and I was a living proof of this: for five years, I've hardly made any effort to use the basic grammar and vocabulary that I've learn during an intensive class I took at the very beginning of my expat life in Germany. My friends were able to speak in some of the languages I knew and at the end of the day, I was back in my bubble that I've known and despised so much before. In my bubble, everything was perfectly fine and only the people that were more or less like me were accepted, with a minimal connection to the immediate reality. This is why I come to Berlin after all? Old habits die hard and it took me more than 30 days - the minimum amount apparently required to abandon/create a new habit - to analyse carefully what I am suppose to do next.
Before I was able to decide clearly, circumstances of all kinds dictated that my life will settle in Berlin, but if I want to be real and take my new life seriously - including for my own business purposes - I have to put my German seriously at work.
Which is exactly what I've done with all my might in the last five years. Although I'm far from being really happy with my German, and I am a couple of long row of stairs away from the moment when will be perfectly at ease with producing smoothly a creative piece of writing in this language, I am working hard toards this goal. In less than one month, I'm about to start two intensive months of 16 hours of German the week, a one-on-one course that will hopefully bring me one step further to my endeavour of being fluently at home with this language.
For those of you who are working hard their German - or any other language - I am happy to share some six tips of how to improve your language skills but without using an App. Although I personally used a couple of them myself for some of my languages - Duolingua being one of them, I've progressed the most when I decided to leave my computer or device and let my language develop freely.

1. Dare to Talk!

There may be some people that are making fun of your accent or just notice that you have one. It happens to me all the time, regardless what language I'm speaking and I just got used with that. But nothing can stop me from putting my German at hard work. At least one hour per day, I am trying to talk in German, offering myself to give directions, asking a vendor about a special product, trying to fix some issues with various authorities, calling my German friends and refusing to accept to talk with them in English. 
Through listening, trying to create a sentence in your mind and further talking in that language you are doing daily little wonders to your fluency. If you are working from home as a lonely freelancer, it might be difficult to find the partners of conversation, but every encounter with a native speaker counts and it's up to you to use it in your benefit.

2. Read Children Books!

My love for reading children books as an adult had't start since I have a little book worm at home. I've used them constantly when I was trying to improve my Spanish, Hebrew and Italian and I will always use them as a perfect basis for improving a language. A couple of years ago, I've even took a class in creative writing for children and I've wrote a draft of a book for children that I haven't published yet only because I haven't find yet that illustrator that might add the perfect visual spice to my writing. One day... 
If you are able to understand and communicate perfectly in the simple language requested by a 3-4-5-6-7 year old than you are doing really well with your language. 

3. Watch TV and Listen to the Radio

The language of the media is aimed at sending the message to a relatively medium-educated audience therefore, the language level should be simple yet comprehensive enough to explain complicated events and phenomena. If you struggle with a good prononciation - who doens't in German, with the long words that takes your breath before you finish them - and also need to work out the understanding part listening to news is a great way to advance the language knowledge.

4. Listen to Music

From the same category of learning to hear, listening to music might speed up your knowledge of some easy and sometimes useful sentences (of course, 'Alle meine Ente...' doesn't count here). 

5. Travel! Travel! Travel!

Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin
As a travel lover and travel writer, travel not only set me free and fill my brain with the expactations of travel and my heart of the love for discovering new cultures and way of thinking. It also does good for the language. The most frequent occasions when I had to use my German while during my frequent travels across the country. During my trips, I got in touch with locals and exchanged random conversations with my travel companions (as I applied the tip no.1), but I also had to ask for directions, check-in at my hotel, order food and ask for different questions about local histories and traditions (besides answering the eternal question I'am always asked as in no other country in the world: 'Where are you from?' tip: answering Berlin never counts). If you want to visit a museum, try to take a bilingual guide and keep an eye to the various descriptions of products on the market. 

6. Go to a Language School

That's the obvious, actually. Especially if you are new in a country, and you have no idea about grammar and vocabulary, a language school is the right place to start. You will get back to school, with homeworks and conversations, and you might also meet some interesting people in the classroom. 
I personally started learning for my B1 certificate in a class with around 15 people, and it was a good way to learn from the others too and get motivated. Now, when I am aiming the highest level of German knowledge, I prefer a more private ambiance, when I can using the time at maximum, with a clear agenda of topics and issues to be addressed that might be useful for my future professional endeavours - like a specific vocabulary and writing skills required for journalistic projects or for business presentations and various standard communication. 
A summer language school where the immersion into the local culture is part of the learning process is an excellent opportunity to create a direct connection to your environment. Words are acquiring a new meaning. It creates a different disposition towards learning, because the language is more than a given homework and dialogue you should learn, but becomes an useful tool mediating communication toward and within a culture.

Hopefully, those tips is helping my fellow expat readers to reach their language goals. If you are interested in some specific expat tips or just looking for motivation, don't hesitate to contact me at

Hope to hear from you soon! Auf Wiedersehen!

Friday, February 15, 2019

How to Spend a Walking Day in Bad Saarow

I am no stranger to Bad Saarow, that I visited several times a couple of years ago. Although this destination under 2 hour away from Berlin is famous as a spa town, I've always been here either for the architecture or for the nature walking. This time, I am back again, introducing Bad Saarow to my friends that I convinced it is worth a ride from Berlin.

The weather is mild, with only some moderate wind and no rain in sight. Go away spa temptation, we don't need you...we have everything we need to keep walking, after all those hard office business days. We start the ride near the train station, slowly checking around looking for some places where we can eventually have a lunch later. That there is no place where you can pay with card it is no surprise for any of us, but that in a place where is clumsily written in German that it is only cash accepted to see a nicely written announcement that you can pay in Bitcoins, that's really surprising. Things are moving either too fast, either too slow, it seems.

We head direction Kurpark, crossing the bright Seestraße, bordered by trees whose nakedness make the avenue even more larger. 

The architecture of Bad Saarow is a noteworthy point of attraction. Although many of the typical houses with clock-wise twitched wooden roof were destroyed during the war or thereafter consumed by fire, some of them are still used, a testimony of the work of a unique urban style. 

But if you are less into houses and design, Bad Saarow offers beautiful landscapes, starting with the peaceful Scharmützelsee. I am doing enough meditation and yoga is not always my sport of choice, but in the middle of such a landscape I let myself embraced by the silence, close my eyes and breath deeply. The best free anti-stress therapy.

Regardless if I travel or I am hard working in the city, I am trying to walk at least one hour the day. While walking I put my life together, get rid of negative energies and get back on shape. Especially when I am surrounded by nature and my steps are accompanied by the bold singing of birds, the recovery is even faster. We start the big round of the Schmeling Rundweg.

From under the clouds, the sun is smiling to us. It is a very easy walking, and no previous practice is needed. Just a pair of comfy shoes. 

Discretely placed away from the main walking road, there are still some of the houses designed by the Jewish architect Harry Rosenthal for personalities in the inter-war period that spent their weekends and summers here. Similarly with Buckow, Bad Saarow was preferred by many artists but also but the representatives of the emergent middle class. The house from the picture, was the property of the boxing champion Max Schmeling where he moved here after the marriage with the actress Anny Ondra.

Since my last trip, many more traditional houses were renovated, keeping alive a unique urban project. At the end of the war, many of those houses were occupied by the representatives of the Soviet Army, neglected thereafter because the communist Germany was often lacking the money for such investments.

When there was not enough space, local minds found a way to create them. A former electricity and water facility was turned into a small hotel, for instance, adding one more accommodation opportunity for the short or long-term visitors to Bad Saarow.

Back into the city, with our lungs refreshed by the early spring crispy air, we are ready to leave Bad Saarow. As everywhere around Berlin, new copy-pasted ad infinitum white buildings appeared here in the last years too, adding a cold, neutral white splash to the typical irregular former unique architecture. I am more tempted to love the old classical Bad Saarow, but I am also curious what the future have in sight for this place. Most probably, to check the next steps, I might bring my friends more often to this place. After so many years and many trips later, it keeps charming me. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Exploring the Bauhaus Heritage of Siemensstadt

Created around the Siemens factory in the second half of the 19th century, Siemensstadt is at the first sight nothing else than a concentration of living units for busy working people. What could it be so exciting to see here, after all, besides rows after rows of blocks of apartments, more or less lookalike?
It's partly true: indeed, Siemensstadt means mostly industrial simple architecture, plane and without a specific aesthetic appeal. However, there is a certain community spirit that is usually missing from the big neighbourhoods, but also an architectural heritage that owns a lot to the Bauhaus movement - more about it in a dedicated next post. Camera in one hand and notebook in the other, at the end of the last week I explored this relatively unknown neighbourhood, that surprised me more than once.

I started my journey at Rohrdamm station, on the U7 line, included on my list of Berlin's most beautiful metro stations. A couple of curiously-shaped constructions aimed to embelish the subway ventilation systems, reminding of native American prints, brings a splash of colour and an exotic note to the neighbourhood.

Siemensstadt was built in the Western part of Spandau, with its centers of power represented by the expanding Siemens factories. The red brownish-bricked buildings that still keep original constructions from two centuries ago are an example of industrial architecture, where simplicity and functionalism are used to send a message of prestige and clear power. 

Since its founding, Siemens permanently employed an important part of the local population, and having them close to the factory, while offering modest yet decent living conditions was part of the social planning. The Bauhaus movement, created in Weimar by Martin Gropius in the 1920s, was offering the right construction solution for the expanding working class: the emphasis on functional design while considering the social aspects. 

Gropius, together with Fred Forbat, Otto Bartning and Hans Scharoun, created at the end of the 1920s beginning of the third decade of the 20th century a so-called 'Siedlung' (translated as a 'housing development project') unique by its architectural diversity yet practical in its offer. Siemensstadt is one of the 4 such big projects in Berlin, together with Hufeisensiedlung in Britz, Weiße Stadt in Reinickendorf and Onkel-Tom Hütte in Zehlendorf. 

From outside, they look like small orderly boxes of matches. For each living unit, the learned architects - the representatives of the Bauhaus were knowledgeable not only in topics related to architecture, but Gropius encouraged the multi-disciplinary education such as knowing the physical properties of materials, painting and social sciences too - assigned around 54 sqm - 2 rooms - for a family of 4 persons.

The new living units were adapted to the challenges brought by the industrial revolution, offering to the Siemens workers access to various facilities, such as a laundry point - Wäscherei - at the end of one of the buildings. In addition, cultural and religious services, as well as childcare were part of the bigger offer of services included in the complex of buildings.

Nowadays, once you enter a specific area, you may find many announcements not only about available apartments to rent, but also about common activities, such as local historical and photography tours or just neighbourhood meetings.

If you are looking for some interesting examples of Bauhaus constructions, the best streets to explore are: Jungfernheideweg, Goebelplatz and Nonnendammallee.

My next stop is one U7 subway station away: Siemensdamm, where there are more Siemens administrative buildings and factories. In the front of the main building, a massive sculpture, signed by the architect of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Daniel Libeskind, reverses the urban dynamic of the area: The Wings.

Given its non-central location, you hardly know about it. Initially presented at the Milan Expo 2015, it is a 3-part wing-shaped aluminium structure which comes together twice as the sculpture twists upward. 

It has a high of 18.47 meters, which amounts to the year when Siemens factory was created.

The fierce struggle of the wings that seems to fight against the forces of gravitation and levitate up into the skies enters a different dynamic stage with the 5,000 small LEDS enlightening the monumental work. I've visited the place during the day, therefore I couldn't spot fully the digital activities.

There are no 'wows' to utter at every corner and Instagrammable places in Siemensstadt. The over 10,000 people living here are busy at work, many of them for generations employed by Siemens. Even my expat friends working for the German giant preferred to move here, as the long working hours do not allow too much time to cross the city to a more fancier and glamorous neighbourhood. The rents are more than bearable and the life is safe, cheap and uneventful. The easy transport connections via the Ring and fast subway connection that initially pledged for locating the factory here are still among the main advantages of living and working here.
But there is a local life which you can hardly find in the other posh areas: at the local bookstore Bücher an Nonnendamm, there is hardly place left on the main door window for the announcements of weekend common activities. More than in any other parts of Berlin, there is a high concentration of Italian restaurants, at competition with typical German kneippe, and bakeries, among which the Backusilius, a small baking workshop, also family-friendly. 
You can easily live in Siemensstadt, in Bauhaus boxes of matches, included in the UNESCO World Heritage. Your history and the history of the place are growing up as a small sequence of the history of this city.