Once an industrial area and hotspot for night owls, the area surrounding Munich's Ostbahnhof (East Station) is becoming an urban trend quarter. Werksviertel-Mitte wants to create a neighbourhood of the future.
Colourfully painted containers can be found on an area just behind the East Station. Everything seems rather provisional - and yet still inviting. People make themselves comfortable on the pallets which have been converted into benches. The site trailers house shops, studios and pubs; there is wine and beer, coffee and cinnamon rolls, or even ice cream for the children.
Werksviertel-Mitte is currently one of the most exciting urban development projects in Germany. Flower containers roughly one metre wide can be moved on sunken rails through the district. The tracks are still reminiscent of this place's industrial heritage. In former times, it was the company Pfanni which produced dumplings and mashed potatoes here. Then the companies packed up and left – from 1996, the area has been referred to as Kunstpark Ost, then Kultfabrik and Optimolwerke.
The industrial halls at that time housed up to 30 discos, as well as bars, arcades and studios. The area behind Munich's East Station was legendary for stores like the "Milchbar", the "Harry Klein" or the club "K41". Up until the turn of the century, people looking to party flocked in their masses to the place, which was eventually crowned "Europe's largest party mile".
Then it was over - and no one knew what was to follow. The former entertainment district made room for a neighbourhood of the future. Since 2012, concept and development plans have been put in motion: the aim is to ensure that start-ups and creative people continue to have a home here. It was decided that the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra will get a new concert hall, right in the heart of the district. It is to be surrounded by a wealth of other cultural institutions, such as the "Tonhalle" for music concerts, as well as theatres and cinemas.
Before the ground is broken for the new concert hall, the site will temporarily be host to the "Hi-Sky München", the biggest mobile Ferris wheel in the world.
At the same time, there will be approximately 1,500 new apartments and offices with a rough capacity for 7,000 people, as well as hotels, shops, a school and day-care centres, all in the Werksviertel of the future. "Preserve the old. Dare the new" is the motto here. Architecturally, this means: The partially hidden building treasures from the last 50 years should not be lost. Instead, the area should be enriched to include modern, sustainable buildings.
Some people even dare to compare it with New York. There, the Meatpacking District – the city's slaughterhouse district – has turned into a trendy area that does not deny its roots.