Hardly any other neighbourhood in Munich is changing its face like the Schlachthofviertel. We have interviewed two people who should know: “Weißwurst” (Bavarian sausage) veteran Magnus Bauch and cultural entrepreneur Daniel Hahn.
What could be a better meeting place for the old and new worlds of the Schlachthof than on this disused railway bridge? Here, the Alte Utting is anchored in the middle of the city: a former lake steamer, actually ready for the scrap yard, but now a bar, beer garden and creative space all in one – and from its upper deck you can overlook a quarter in transition. Hardly any other part of Munich is currently changing its face so rapidly and radically as the area around the Schlachthof and the Grossmarkthalle (wholesale market hall).
But what remains the same is the pride the residents have in their neighbourhood. Magnus Bauch is one of the longest-standing and best-known Schlachthof ambassadors: His butcher's shop is famous beyond the city borders for its “Weißwürste” (Bavarian sausages). Daniel Hahn from the Alte Utting on the other hand, is one of the young and wild who are giving Munich a new image.
Magnus, Daniel – let’s chat about the Schlachthofviertel. So let's start with you!
Magnus Bauch: There are voices in Munich, who have long called the Schlachthof the “belly of Munich“ also because of the Grossmarkthalle. I think that's great. There's no better way to put it.
Then, is the Utting, where we are sitting right now overlooking all the way to Theresienwiese (Oktoberfest fairground), the "Hahn (rooster) of Munich"?
Daniel Hahn: (laughs) No. Not really.
But the Utting is featuring in every travel guide today. After you moved the barge from Ammersee (lake) to this bridge, even the “New York Times” headlined that Munich is becoming cool. Why did you move the Utting to the Schlachthofviertel?
Daniel Hahn: In the past, freight wagons used to travel over this bridge to the Großmarkt. I had my eye on it for a long time when it was still wasteland, then I climbed up and took a closer look at some point: It’s an exciting spot, very sunny, you could make something out of it. Once we got the Utting, everything had to happen very quickly. So, we sawed it up and put it back together here.
"Nobody would have believed that the idea with the boat would work, it was a huge effort. But also with our butcher's shop, no one thought that it would ever become this big."
Magnus Bauch: Nobody would have believed that the idea with the boat would work, it was a huge effort. But also with our butcher's shop, no one thought that it would ever become this big. Where there’s a will, there's a way!
Bauch’s mobile jingles a Muddy Waters tune. A Wiesnwirt (Oktoberfest host) is on the line. Hahn, for his part, still looks as if he can't believe that one of his projects is in all the travel guides. The 31-year-old entrepreneur and his brothers spice up the city by spotting ideas where others are at a loss. The Utting is to be scrapped? Then let's put it up on a bridge! Turn a rail bus into a bar in front of the film academy? No problem! Convert decommissioned underground carriages and containers into an alternative cultural centre? It’s now standing just a few metres away, on the site of the former Viehhof (farm animal area), and is called Bahnwärter Thiel.
Daniel, you have a city-wide reputation as a collector of bulky stuff. And instead of letting it lie around uselessly, you turn it into cultural sites ...
Daniel Hahn: Yes, and for good reason: When you're young and looking for places to set up something, it's hard to get hold of houses or halls. That's why I concentrated on vacant spaces and simply brought the structures myself. And once the project is finished, we can just take everything back.
Bauch promises to call back the Wiesnwirt. Bauch, too, is known as a hands-on person, a tackler who doesn't think small – or perhaps he can't. As a young, freshly trained butcher, the now 67-year-old first went on a big trip at the invitation of various butchers all over the world. His first stop was Bali, where he met Parwathi, who is now his wife – and where they ran a hotel together for many years, in addition to the butcher's shop in Munich.
Magnus, Metzgerei Bauch has always been located where the Utting is now. How was your start with the Schlachthofviertel?
Magnus Bauch: My father came here 60 years ago. We started with a very small shop – 23 square metres floor space. My father then came up with the idea of starting a wholesale business, and it took off from there. Soon we were supplying the entire catering industry from here, sometimes by bicycle.
Daniel Hahn: The tram used to run here in Thalkirchner Strasse. That was ages ago. And now everything is being rebuilt for the tram.
Magnus Bauch: Thalkirchner Strasse used to be so wide that people parked in double and triple rows. And there was a tram driver who used to make unscheduled stops in front of the butcher's shop to buy his "Leberkässemmel” (meat-loaf roll) at his leisure. When a passenger complained, he always just said that he wouldn't drive if he was hungry.
Does the Utting serve a meat dish, or is that no longer in keeping with the times – even in the former slaughterhouse district?
Daniel Hahn: It's true, we don't have much meat on the menu. But there is stick bread with rolled-up "Leberkäs" (meat loaf) and chicken at the African stand. We also have “Weißwurst”, but from a different butcher.
Magnus Bauch: But I have something for you.
Daniel Hahn: What is it?
Magnus Bauch: Vegan patties that do actually taste good: cauliflower-base and pea-protein. You can just deep-fry them.
Daniel Hahn: And what do you think of them?
Magnus Bauch: I am a free thinker in this respect: If the customer wants it, then he gets it. But I personally wouldn't eat it, it's not to my taste.
"I also hope that the neighbourhood retains its character. The special thing about it is that it is very central and still allows for development."
Magnus, you also sell Balinese sausage in your butcher's shop. How did that come about?
Magnus Bauch: When my wife came to Munich with me, there was nothing Asian here: no vegetables, no fruit, no nothing. That upset her, of course. On our next visit to Bali, I saw how urutang, a pork sausage, is made. I took the recipe with me and modified it so that I can make it here, too. Actually, I had a completely different name for the sausage, spicy onion sausage with garlic, but every customer calls it the Bali sausage. In any case, my wife was happy.
The Schlachthofviertel has always been known for being a place where many nations get along.
Magnus Bauch: First came the Italians, then the Yugoslavs, then the Turks and later the Vietnamese. In my company, I have twelve nations working. It's the mixture that counts. Of course, many people have moved away over the years, but they still come to my shop.
The neighbourhood around the slaughterhouse is unique, starting with its history. After the last major cholera epidemic in Munich in 1866, it was decided to build a large slaughterhouse on the advice of the city councillor and architect Arnold Zenetti and hygienist Max von Pettenkofer. It was ceremoniously inaugurated in 1878 and was still located on the outskirts of the city at that time. It was not Zenetti's only good deed for Munich; he also founded the volunteer fire brigade and built several hospitals.
"It used to be the belly of the city because the food came from here, but maybe now it will become the cultural belly of the city with stimulus and cultural formats."
The slaughterhouse itself is used far less for slaughtering purposes today. In view of all the urban development plans for the area: What will become of the slaughterhouse now?
Magnus Bauch: Some say the slaughterhouse should go, others say it is almost a listed building. Personally, I would like to see more small shops and apartments on the first floor. The façade of the slaughterhouse should remain as it is, then the district will keep its charm and character.
Daniel Hahn: I also hope that the neighbourhood retains its character. The special thing about it is that it is very central and still allows for development. That's why you can also bring modern approaches directly into this quarter. Since we have been here with our projects and the Volkstheater, people have also been treated to more culture. Things are changing. It used to be the belly of the city because the food came from here, but maybe now it will become the cultural belly of the city with stimulus and cultural formats. Since these are urban areas, there is a chance to develop a coherent overall concept.
The change also means that about 5,000 additional people will move into the neighbourhood through new housing.
Magnus Bauch: Yes, but that means the neighbourhood will come alive! Not only through diverse culture, but also through diverse retail.
Are you committed to that as well?
Daniel Hahn: Yes, inevitably. The exciting thing about the Viehhof, for example, is that there are plans, but nothing has been decided yet. That naturally gives us and others the opportunity to get involved. Along the railway tracks, where Bahnwärter Thiel is now, there will perhaps be a small park for the residents. We would like to see urban gardens, small-scale studios and so on. By the way, you can watch the sunset from there! We don't want to obstruct that.
"I like the Schlachthofviertel best the way it is now. It's alive."
Magnus Bauch: Honestly, I won't interfere at all. My top priority is to let my own things run undisturbed. And I am convinced that there are more people like Daniel here who are better at implementing ideas like that. What we need here is a new push.
Daniel Hahn: In which decade or time did you like the neighbourhood best?
Magnus Bauch: Right now. I like it best the way it is now. It's alive. Just looking at the bus stop over there: There used to be an elderly lady, now there are young people, students from all over the world. The Schlachthof used to be a shambles, but now it's finally getting some movement.