HIDDEN GEM DOWNTOWN

It is always good to know a nice and fabulous place nearby to be found in a small cluster of stucco-fronted streets which have retained much of their late 19th century charm. A tranquil enclave of Berlin where locals relax in pleasant street cafes and watch the world pass slowly by. Here tucked away on Charlottenburg’s quaint Danckelmannstreet is the entrance to the Ziegenhof or ‘goat courtyard’.

Although Berlin offers a lot of greenery, this special yard comprises an area of 6,000 m² where you find a mixture of city farm, green retreat and children’s playground and as well the main attraction , a family of very friendly goats. Housed in their own, Swiss-style chalet, they rub shoulders with a coop of well-fed chickens and love getting visits from kids both young and old.

It is well worth dropping past in this pretty relaxed part of town.

 

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Jo’s Monday walk : Praia de Barril

REMOTE POTPOURRI

Each place has a history and tale untold which needs to be revealed and spread again.

First it seems to be more an instant stumbling, but rapidly the first syllables are being uttered by an archaic reflex leading to further unknown obstacles and dubious signs at remote locations wiped off our mind.

In the tunnels of a now globalized perception the tireless explorer gazes deeply surprised on the multiple colours of common amnesia.

This shock urges to move quickly forward in this labyrinth created long time ago. Here dead objects start a new life unexpectedly.

 

 

 

CESKY RAJ – BOHEMIAN PARADISE

After the big political transitions in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s we had visited quite sometimes this magnificent mountainous  area of the Czech Republic being phantastic for hiking and wandering. More than 20 years later we have returned there again for another trip in the 1st week of October 2019 and here are some impressions.

Photos were made at the rock formations of Prachovske Skala, Hruba Skala and Mala Skala, as well in the cities Liberec and Sobotka.

TREEHOUSES – JUST A GREEN DREAM?

“In the Norse tradition ‘crossing the Black Forest’
came to signify penetrating the barriers between
one world and another.”              (Francis Gentry)

In the South-Western part of Germany you will find a wide mountainous area even called today Black Forest (Schwarzwald), and the name originates most probably from the Old Norse noun Myrkviðr (meaning mirky wood or black forest) as part of the Germanic-Scandinavian mythology Edda. In this context the woodlands were a holy place for magic rituals around the all-connecting world tree Yggdrasil. The German tales collected and published by Gebrüder Grimm in the 19th century tell us a lot of stories regarding these sometimes quite bizarre forest sites, while the author J. R. R. Tolkien adopted this dense and green place much more recently as the gloomy Mirkwood,  a Northern jungle full of primeval mysteries.

milne-bay-papua-new-guinea_1884Constructing a treehouse at Papua-New Guinea
Illustration by Otto Finsch, 1884

Our much older ancestors, the monkeys, once did a new thing. Hitherto there had been the earth-bound animals with legs and the air-borne animals with wings. The monkeys left the ground without riding the air and made the trees their habitation, and this was incorporated in our genetic codes while human children do like normally very much climbing or housing on trees as a self-evident game. So the green trees and the wide forests mean certainly our original (mostly previous) homeland here on Earth. Therefore it is also not astonishing that Buddha has only attained enlightenment under a tree, the sacred fig named Bodhi. Such natural mythological places and symbols were destroyed everywhere in Europe as part of a violent missioning Christian crusade starting in the 6th century which completely ignored the fact that plants and trees are living much longer and obviously in greater diversity than our species on this planet and deserve our full respect.

Destruction of the Saxonian Irminsul by Charlemagne 772,
illustration by Heinrich Leutemann 1882

Nowadays – as part of a recollection to nature as a value in itself which is not at all a romantic question – modern architecture discovers again trees as an integral part of constructing houses worldwide. This development gets most visible at the two Bosco Verticale towers at Milan where real trees and bushes have been set on its balconies with the aim to create one hectare of forest as part of a modern appartment building in the very centre of a densely populated big town. But here the basic materials of construction remain concrete and glass, so the trees and bushes resemble more or less just a green attachment, a planted facade. So I was really enthusiastic when I stumbled over the information some time ago that urban treehouses are existing not far away in my town, because in the concept of such buildings trees are standing in the centre of design and creation.

dsc_0281Sideview of ‘Urban Treehouse’ at Berlin / Germany

Cabanes La Grande Noë - MoulicentInviting terrace at ‘La Grande Noe’ / France  © Cabanes de la Grande Noe

A treehouse in a big city like Berlin, that sounds quite strange first of all. But for the architects & builders of the Urban Treehouse-project this is the most relevant part of their conceptual design in order to connect nature and a modern kind of urban living on a high level. So they have built two of these small treehouses on a premise directly situated at Berlin’s great forest Grunewald and not far away from the nice lake Krumme Lanke at the district of Zehlendorf. If you intend to go somewhere in the city centre, the next subway station can be reached from there easily and in short-time. So both can be appreciated when living in these houses: the joys of nature and the diverse advantages of a European capital. Hence, this is a mere private project which can be only used by family members for a very delightful stay someday. 

dsc_0269Streetview of ‘Urban Treehouse’ at Berlin / Germany

grandenoe_birdnestsBird-nests at ‘La Grande Noe’  / France   © Cabanes de la Grande Noe

As a part of a more adventure focused tourism treehouse hotels in Europe are quite popular in Germany and France, few others can be also found in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Great Britain and Turkey – in total at least 50 rural sites all around in Europe.  The accomodation prices are quite often comparable to a stay in a 5-star-hotel, as they definitely offer some kind of deluxe today, a place for dreaming like a bird. At Cabanes de la Grande Noe (being situated in the Normandy  countryside of France) six different houses can be rented for 2 or more people on a family run domain. All of them are built merely with wood around or in the trees, such reflecting the traditional way of constructing these kind of houses. So here you have the possibility to experience the rural and puristic treehouse feeling, but with breakfast served and brought to the treehouse each morning – what a luxury wilderness.

If you possibly intend to build a treehouse sometimes lateron just for yourself, the following book will be in any case helpful and animating:  Be in a Treehouse: Design / Construction / Inspiration by Pete Nelson also available in German Die wunderbare Welt der Baumhäuser: Design – Konstruktion – Inspiration, Pete Nelson.

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EXPRESSIONIST ADVENTURES

The Red City, a painting by Marianne von Werefkin from 1909, stands exemplary for Expressionism which emerged in Northern Europe in the early 20th century and quickly spread through all of the arts and as well also in architecture. So lets make a short walk through the vivid Falkenhagener Feld in Berlin.



The Falkenhagener Feld was originally an area used by allotments and agriculture and closes west of the old town of Spandau, the core of the district Spandau in Berlin. Between 1923 and 1927 the architect Richard Ermisch realized here the erection of a huge estate in Expressionist style along the Zeppelinstr. and Falkenseer Chaussee.

At the junction of both streets four eye-catching towers form the very centre of this interesting architecture. Till today these varied houses look really strikingly modern although almost one hundred years old.