Subculture Berlin: Klunkerkranich in Neukölln offers fascinating views over the roofs of the city!

Currently, I undergo a process in which I define for myself what defines a city worth living in. What is it, that I appreciate about Stuttgart where I feel so at home since very recently? How can I live in close touch with nature and environmentally conscious inside the city walls?

Personally, I need something green. Plants, trees, bright colors. No gray house walls. No traffic noise. On the contrary, a place to dream and to refresh the soul. Where everything is produced locally, where everyone can afford a bit more than the necessary, where everybody joins in and helps shape their neighborhood. Where the hierarchy is flat.

Alternative sites in Berlin: Klunkerkranich in Neukölln

Klunkerkranich: the alternative cultural and viewing platform in Berlin

Such an oasis (I call it a “bubble”), I found in my student group “Greening Stuttgart” and our urban gardening project called “MitMachGarten”. These places live from exchange and new ideas. And, of course, new ideas and inspiration you get i.a. by traveling. Unsolicitedly, just for myself on the quest for my deeper purpose in this world, I am on the look-out for these relaxation areas in my own and other cities. I found such a model example in London, and in Berlin last weekend.

I am thinking about creating a series to share such locally-initiated projects with you. But since I come up with new ideas over and over, I don’t want to be too promising here… While listening to the soft sounds of Ludovico Einaudi, I will try to make my latest eye-catcher in Berlin appealing to you:

Alternative sight in Berlin: the entry of Klunkerkranich

Entering Klunkerkranich: the way to the parking level 6

Alternative Berlin: Klunkerkranich, Neukölln

The proprietors describe the Klunkerkranich (“Wattled Crane“) as a cultural rooftop garden. It is located on the upper parking level of the Neukölln Arcaden, just next to the tube station “Rathaus Neukölln”.

You can’t spot the garden from street level. Go inside the Neukölln Arcaden and use the elevator to get in the 5th floor (“Parkdeck 5”). Then turn left and walk until you see a shell-shaped ramp on the lefthand-side. Follow it to reach the 6th floor.

Alternative sight in Berlin: the urban gardening project "KlunkerGarten" at the rooftop location "Klunkerkranich"

Everybody is invited to relax in the garden of Klunkerkranich called “KlunkerGarten” which is always free of cost.

In 2013, the founders had the idea: Above the city roofs, an open space should be created for Do-It-Yourself, encounters, or even to recover from the stress of the large city. Open for everyone: artists, visionaries, or just neighbors. [as shown in the documentary (DE)] The plan: “a fusion of event area, restaurant and roof garden”, the main operator told Berliner Zeitung (2015). Two years they invested to turn the unused, grey parking level into a green oasis. With lots of wood as flooring and flower pots and the help of countless voluntary workers.

Alternative sight in Berlin: panorama over the roofs of Berlin including the TV tower

There it is, the TV tower Berlin! ♥

Today, Klunterkranich is a well-known address among tourists and locals. Their program ranges from concerts, DJs, readings to cinemas, and culinary delights. In the canteen “Zum Fetten Finken” (“to the fat finches”), you can find breakfast, lunch, and dinner; preferably seasonal. When I was there, vegetarian gnocchis cost 6.50€; according to their website, they offer meat and vegan options as well.

Kanteen „Zum Fetten Finken“
Food: with meat/ vegetarian/ sometimes vegan
Daily special at lunch time: around 7.50€

Parties take place in the two locations “Wohnzimmer” (“living room”) and “Hinter den Alpen” (“behind the Alps”), or on the platform in the front yard in the open air. The “Wohnzimmer” is where you can find food & drinks during the day. Mirror balls hang from the ceiling and below them, a mixed clientele chills to funky music on a motley assortment of furniture items. If the weather is nice, I recommend sitting on the roof terrace. Most of the tables are next to the railing and offer a wide view of the city.

Alternative sight in Berlin: the toilets at Klunkerkranich

Inside Klunkerkranich: even the toilets are highly presentable!


Klunkerkranich as a viewing platform: panorama of Berlin’s TV tower

Ha! Yes, you’ve read correctly! Klunkerkranich, more than to be expected from its alternative origin, is the insider tip for everyone who wants to catch a glimpse of the TV tower from above!

Very convenient: There are sockets free of charge both inside and outside (which is a re-occurring problem amongst travelers)…

Until 4 pm you get free entry to the premises, afterward, you will be charged between 3 – 6 € for the evening events. (There is a small garden in front of the entry that is free of charge at all times.) This means for you: if you only come to take some pictures, you may want to hurry in before 4 pm. (Not surprisingly, the place fills up just 15 minutes to 4 pm… 😉) One of the best times for pictures is, of course, the sunset. *Nonetheless please consider that revenue contributes to organizing future events and the maintenance of the area.*

Tip: Pop in before 4 pm if you want to “just” take pictures!

Alternative sight in Berlin: the best viewing platform including local, homemade food --> Klunkerkranich

Eating gnocchis with aragula and parmesan with Berlin’s TV tower in the backdrop.

More information and the current opening hours, you can find here (in German):
Alternative sight in Berlin: the panoramic view from Klunkerkranich

A wide outlook – love at first sight!

Reality Check: The history of Klunkerkranich

What makes Klunkerkranich as special as it is, is that it was financed from “normal” people, no shady real-estate entrepreneurs. Instead, a group of hippy economists, presenting themselves as a “chosen family”, lived and worked together in cramped conditions for 2 years. They gave up their secure and well-paid jobs to create something new.

The project involved community and cohesion. Like in a real family, it was not always harmonious, but you love one another. Inventors, craftsmen, artists, neighbors; over 100 volunteers helped create Klunkerkranich without payment and learned from one another. “Klunkerkranich stands symbolically for the alternative Berlin, for another way of managing things economically, in which not the money counts, but the idea.” (Zitty Berlin)

Alternative sight in Berlin: culture and art at Klunkerkranich

Rather specific art at Klunkerkranich

Fast forward to 2015. After 2 years of construction, Klunkerkranich opens its doors. And at the time, when money (=revenue) came into play, the family structure started to shake, the founders waged ware against each other before the Court. They wanted to clarify who is the rightful owner (“and to whom goes all the revenues” *me saying*). Most probably, the Court held the view that all founders were equal owners of the company, and, if one wanted to leave, should get his estimated share of several thousand euros. One of the initiators raised concerns against this decision in BLN.FM: “There are a lot of costs – and of course we invest in the development, the expansion and thereby in the future of the project.”

I couldn’t find more information about the settlement of the quarrels online. If you have some insights, you are welcome to reach out in the comments.

Alternative sight in Berlin: Skyline Berlin with TV tower seen from the rooftop terrace of Klunkerkranich

The atmosphere is really cozy here!

Questions about alternative economic activities…

When I think of these quarrels, the following questions came to mind: Was the utopia, the hippie commune, only a pretext to let something commercial arise? And by this definition, what makes something a business opposed to a “(sub-)cultural enrichment” of the neighborhood? How to unite voluntary commitment / subculture / the co-creation of living space with the survival of the individual, meaning the necessity that the responsible operators have to finance their own bread and water in addition to planning new events full-time? And who decides the amount of money they should get for their duty, taken into consideration the initial risk they accepted to initiate the project in the first place?

How are your opinions on this? Do you know of any examples in your own city?

At this point, we simply want to be glad that the quarrels settled, that Klunkerkranich still exists and enriches Berlin with its alternative flair and that the energy can be invested in the further development of the project.


Alternative sight in Berlin: Klunkerkranich ("the Wattled Crane") as a rooftop garden with many cultural events and a panoramic view over whole Berlin

The garden of Klunkerkranich: the wattled crane in its habitat.


More tips:

1) An alternative, free insider recommendation for everyone who is on the way in the West of Berlin: Enjoy the view from the university canteen at Ernst-Reuter-Platz a.k.a. “Cafeteria TU Skyline” (be aware that it is only opened when the university is as well…)

2) In Berlin-Pankow (in the North of Berlin), you can have a look at the 2000m2 Project, where the agricultural arable crops of the world are cultivated in the same proportions that they occur around the world. In this way, imbalances in global cultivation are demonstrated.

“The World In One Field

If we divide the amount of agricultural land in the world by the number of humans on the earth, every person would receive 2000m² (half an acre). So that is the portion of agricultural land that arithmetically we are entitled to. Everything that feeds us and provides for our needs has to grow on that: wheat for bread, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, also corn and soya as animal feed, and sugar beet for the sugar in our tea and coffee, cotton for T-shirts, sunflowers for edible oil and rape for biodiesel.

The future fertility and biological diversity of our soil depend on how we treat it. In other words, how we work the soil, treat the plants and use the harvest. If we divide up the world’s agricultural land fairly, there is enough for everyone.”

The 2000m2 Project



{Annotation: I didn’t edit any of the pictures, I shot them like you see them, I only resized them.}

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