Rummelsburger Bucht is one of the last large free spaces in Berlin. The lake, also a federal waterway, borders on the districts Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Lichtenberg. Free spirits are drawn to the oasis in the middle of the city. They anchor there permanently with their boats and self-made rafts or use the lake as a summer residence.
Investors have also recognised the potential of the Rummelsburger Bucht. An aquarium and condominiums are to be built on the west bank. After more than ten years of planning, this was sealed in spring 2019 with the adoption of the Ostkreuz development plan, the massive resistance on the part of Berliners remained unnoticed. In July, a mooring ban was issued on the Friedrichshain side of the bay. However, the anchor ban requested by the Berlin Senate was rejected by the Wasserstraßen- und Schifffahrtsamt. Boats are still allowed to anchor on the water free of charge. A small stage victory for the water dwellers.
Two years ago, Claudius built his houseboat with friends. It bears the name ‘Eroberung des Unwahrscheinlichen’. The photographer uses the boat as a studio and working space.
“Last summer I rode my bike from festival to festival and worked there. I bridged the winter in Berlin, but only found apartments for a short time. From April I was homeless and slept with friends and worked in clubs. A friend allowed me to spend the nights on one of his boats whenever I was in Berlin. There is a touch of transience in the air. It feels like Rio Reiser’s ‘The dream is over’. The dream is over and yet we fight to continue to believe in it and to live it”.
Israeli investors Benjamin Kahn and Nir Dror are planning to build the Aquapark, a large aquarium. The area around the bay, where most of the ships are anchored, is to be redesigned.
Ronyor lives in his tent in the area around ‘Rummelsburger Bucht’ without having a permanent address. He compares the bay with ‘Bikini Bottom’, the weird underwater world of ‘Sponge Bob’, beneath the radioactive Bikini Atoll.
Ronny and his boat are part of the ‘Lummerland’ boat collective.
“On April 27, 2018, one day before my birthday, I bought my boat. I lived there almost from the beginning. But rather unconsciously. Here I arrived completely. Actually, it is less safe on the water during storms and rain. But if you know your boat and how it works, you have a safer feeling than on land. The rent can’t be increased, the boat can’t be broken into and no one can claim their personal use.”
Harry with his dog on the culture ship Freibeuter, where he runs his workshop.He designs furniture from old shopping carts. Since the culture ship was evacuated, he no longer has a workshop.
“After a stressful skate tour I slept for the first time one night on the boat of my best friend Ronny. I felt there such a peace, which I do not have on the land, that I thought: I also need a boat! On 1st October 2019 I bought my first boat. Now I’ve been on the boat for a month, I’ve sublet my apartment until December. Then I’ll probably go back during the winter, because it’s getting really cold on the boat already now”. When Ali is not on his boat, he runs a skate hall in Lichtenberg with friends and gives skate workshops at schools.
The old cargo ship is used by various cultural initiatives and artists as a meeting and working space. Since October 2018, the ship has been occupied to protest against the planned destruction. In spring 2019 the ship was cleared and towed out of the bay.
“When you arrive on the water, leave the time ashore”
Marius is the inventor of ‘Wunstkunst’, old cigarette boxes filled with small art. These can be purchased at discarded cigarette vending machines, which can be found in Berlin clubs or at Hackescher Markt. He has been living on a boat in the bay for 4 years. The Lucky Star is his 2nd boat, after his first one burned down in a fire on ‘Lummerland’. He financed it by a Facebook – call for donations among friends. So it just took 2 months until he could buy a new boat.
Zoltan lives with his two dogs and 8 puppies on his Houseboat called ‘Villa Kunterbunt’, that is tied to the part of the bank, where the park of the ‘Aquapark’ is going to end. He is the initiator of ‘Kälte Nothilfe’ Berlin.
“Win! I hit the nail on the head. In the meantime there was an unsuccessful attempt by the Bundestag to introduce an anchor ban because the highest shipping authority said it was too dangerous. It almost gives me goose bumps that the statement ‘maritime law beats gentrification’ has already proved true a year later.”
Interviews & Text: Masha Slawinski & Saskia Uppenkamp