I was full from a nice barbecue with my cousin and his friends yesterday when I decided that I needed to leave the house at least once. So I went for a long walk around the neighbourhood in the golden evening sun. Scarf in hand I turned corners wherever I felt like it, phone in my pocket, enjoying the lush green of the trees, wondering whether I’d like to live anywhere in this area. One thing I really like about Berlin is that almost every building looks different; there are so many stories in this city.
Then I turned a corner and found myself across the road from a huge abandoned complex.
This area is almost exclusively residential buildings, so I imagine this might once have been a school or office complex of some sort. A small part of the ground floor houses a music school, but the rest of the building looks to be empty; a good six, seven floors of it. I wish I’d taken a decent picture to convey its size, but the sign in front of it says that there are 400 small flats to be developed here.
Right now, though, it’s covered in graffiti, standing tall and silent in the middle of a community. Walking around it, I noticed an open door, so I stuck my head inside. Dust hanging from the ceiling, all I could see were more doors behind a glass wall, so I left quickly; not without noting the strange heat inside. Like the building was exhaling on me.
I think it was mostly the holiday evening silence that gave it this eerie quality. But as I stood in the sunny large open space behind the building, where I could hear no sound but the songs of many birds and the clanging of a loose scrap of metal hanging off a door, I looked up at the many windows – some open; some still with the curtains on – and I imagined all the lives that might be lived in there, right now. Without anybody knowing.