Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Kottbusser Tor: Understanding Space
This is what the facade of the building looks like above Kottbusser Tor. Is it any wonder that the area has become the heroin center of Berlin? When will governments learn that not only do people construct their architectural environments in a manner that reflects their own culture, but architecture also influences people in the same way. There is an utterly old and entirely boring discussion about whether the environment or the genetics of a human determine its way of being in the world. An old and boring argument because both hold significant sway and yet the topic is more complex than that. But, it is important to note that Environment does have an effect on a populace. Something we can probably (hopefully) all agree upon. In my opinion it greatly determines culture, language, and all aspects of the psychology of a society. Now, back to the important question, "When will governments learn?" And I will supply an answer, "Governments are reactionary" That means that it will take a certain number of deaths before they install a traffic light in the middle of a very dangerous intersection even if everyone agrees that one should be installed beforehand.
Currently the government's response (after the article was published) was to place more police and security forces in and around the metro station where junkies and dealers unite. Obviously, not even the biggest idiot believes that it takes brute force (police or soldiers with guns) to solve a problem like heroin addiction (which is emotional, physical, psychological, etc). Obviously, it takes doctors, care-workers, and so forth.
Just the same, the show of force discourages heroin addicts and dealers from hanging around Kotti for the time being. The show of force will undoubtedly last a few weeks or so, and it may even serve to move the heroin center to another station permanently. Wow, wouldn't everyone be patting themselves on the back then. And there might be even more funding for more police, more guns, more skull-crushing clubs, tanks, and bombs. And then we would see those ventures as a fantastic way to stimulate an economy. And then... Oh wait, didn't Orwell already make that whole thing popular. The whole, Big Brother fighting a war against the "lower classes" which should last indifinetely. Well, yes, a state's campaign of war against itself would be relatively easy to fuel. But this is not a sollution by a human, this is a sollution by some kind of society run by ogres, brutes, thieves, and murderers.
Welcome to Berlin and the high culture of humanity.
Now, a useful solution that can be taken up at the individual level. Given that spaces should retain some sense of plasticity (see H. Lefebvre), it is upon each of the individuals residing in a society to take part in altering their environment. At a most basic (and perhaps most universally significant) level, humans have been drawing on walls for as long as we have been telling stories. Draw on your walls, write on your walls, and until we have public planners and architects and fewer beaucracies that they must deal with to construct enjoyable spaces, we must abide with simple sollutions which each citizen can take-up before we have living quarters; that meet or exceed the standards of current generations, which can be readily altered, and also serve to reflect the culture and history people so cherish.
So how would this be done.
Fewer police (gee, no brainer). More Doctors and care-workers, education programs and extracurricular activities which involve (or in this case create) a sense of community. Hmm, what could those activities be... hmm... HMM! Fucking graffiti, idiot. Teach them art and they will express their souls for the world to share and enjoy.
God, I know I want to see that more than I do some junkies getting their skulls beaten in by the police.