René Sommer Documentary Photography
Revaler Straße RAW Urban Spree
This jumble of derelict buildings is one of the last subcultural compounds in central Berlin. Founded in 1867 as a train repair station, RAW (‘Reichsbahn-Ausbesserungs-Werk’), It remained in operation until 1994.
Since 1999 the graffiti-slathered grounds have been a thriving offbeat sociocultural centre for creatives of all stripes. They also harbour clubs, bars, an indoor skate park, a swimmingpool club and a bunker-turned-climbing-wall.
Every Wednesday evening in the summer, a design market is held here featuring fashion,accessories, urban art and interior design. Good music and delicious food is also on offer on summer Wednesdays until well after the sun has gone down. Revaler Straße’s manybars and clubs – and adjacent all-night kebab stands – are especially popular with young students and party tourists in the capital.
But the area has a dark side too, as it is well-known for street drug dealing and has seen violence in recent months. The well-know punk band Jennifer Rostock suffered a vicious knife attack in August 2015 that left one of their musicians with a near fatal gash in his throat.
Urban Spree, the new project from the French crew behind the much-missed HBC, houses an art gallery, concert hall, studio spaces and Bunsmobile food truck, with an emphasis on the experimental and DIY. There are frequent performances and concerts, ranging from freeform jazz, to acid-folk and improvised instrumental noise. Look out for gigs by far-out noiseniks Psychic Ills and ex-Can frontman Damo Suzuki, as well as the occasional curveball like hip-hop mega-producer Swizz Beatz.
Berlin, September 2015