Biking on the margins of a beautiful canal between the Kreuzberg and Treptow areas of Berlin, we stumbled upon a magical place called Wagendorf Lohmühle (Caravan Village). This artistic community transformed an area that was once a wasteland into a self-sufficient community that produces all of its own energy and food!
Wagendorf Lohmühle’s recycled and hand-made mobile shelters use solar panels to transform the sun’s energy into free electricity. Some wagons, like this geometrical wooden one, were built on-site from a wide variety of found materials. Some other wagons have been restored, but all of them have one thing in common: an outdoors area for enjoying nature while chatting over a cup of bio-coffee.
These cute wagons, caravans, and self-made experimental living shelters aim to promote cultural and artistic self-initiated projects all-year-round. Cats, dogs, rabbits, birds and a couple of tortoises with their own home share their lives with kids and adults seeking a more natural way of living.
The residents enjoy participating in open monthly events like concerts, workshops, readings, performances, cinema and exhibitions – all powered by wind and solar energy. There is also a shared vermicompost — or worm compost — system enhanced by ‘Effective Microorganisms’ (EM) – a Japanese composting technique that uses 80 species of ‘friendly microorganisms” to balance the soil. There is no running water in the community, but they reuse rainwater through simple mechanism and treat all their grey water using beds of reeds.
A ‘Free Box’ with clothes, shoes and toys is the community’s recycling stop for outgrown stuff. Living anonymous and away from apartment blocks inside not-so-well insulated trailers and wagons can be great in summer, but is very tough during snowy winters. Whether you see it as a political statement, an experimental architectural village, a hippie settlement, or just a group of people living an environmentally conscious life under their own ethics, Berlin’s Wagendorf Lohmühle makes us reconsider the way we live.
Photo © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat