Friedrichshain, Boxhagener Kiez

. . . . . . . . . .

type of use
Penny Herscovitch

initial cost
2001 – approx.  €69.000 in public funding,2002 – approx.  €76.700 in public funding
operating cost
In 2002: artists pay €3/m sq + utilities,Public funding covers up to €250/month of the difference, Landlord goodwill keeps the rents low

. . . . . . . . . .

submitted by
tashy endres
submitted on

. . . . . . . . . .

web links


Supporting start-up arts- enterprises in Berlin Frierichshain

time frame: Start Date
January 2001

End Date
December 2002 (and perhaps continuing on a yearly basis)

Year-long subsidized leases, with possibility for artists to continue lease with landlord at market ra

initiators: Neighborhood Management Team (municipality-sponsored development agency)
Concept and management by Spielfeld – Agency for Cultural Consultation

users: Young designers, artists, musicians, architects, etc

municipal role: Subsidizes rents, initiated project

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Boxion, a municipality-funded project in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of former East Berlin, facilitates the placement of start-up arts enterprises in vacant shops for the period of one year, with affordable subsidized rents. In response to resident complaints about the high rate of retail vacancies, the Neighborhood Management Team held an ideas competition which resulted in the Boxion project. The municipality contracts a private agency to run the project, negotiate with landlords and select artists.

Leasing costs
In 2002: artists pay €3/m sq + utilities
Public funding covers up to €250/month of the difference
Landlord goodwill keeps the rents low

Amount of people
Temporary users
2001: 12 storefronts with 32 employees total
2002: 10 storefronts with 20 employees total

vistors/ clients
more than 2,000 people attend annual Art and Cultural Festival, associated with Boxion project, in neighborhood

Contact/ Information
TasdorferStr. 31
Fon 030 55404 82
Fax 030 554900 70

Development (History)
The Boxhagener Platz Neighborhood Management Team, in former East Berlin, is one of 17 Neighborhood Management Teams of Berlin, neighborhood-specific development programs created in 1999 by the Ministry of Urban Development. In preparing a plan of action for the neighborhood, individual residents and groups surveyed expressed concern over the vacancy rate of shops, and the accompanying economic and public safety issues that they indicate. In October 2000, the Neighborhood Management Team held an ideas competition, open to the local public, for the concept and management of interim use of vacant shops. A jury of representatives from Neighborhood Management, the district’s cultural committee and the University of Applied Sciences located in the area, choce the Boxion concept of Spielfeld – Agancy for Cultural Consultations.

Detailed Description

a) Description of Location, Site and Building

The Boxhagener Platz neighborhood is part of the larger Friedrichshain district, in former East Berlin, a few kilometers away from the new center of the city, easily accessible by public transport. The neighborhood suffers from a rate of vacancy of shops of more than 20% as well as disused public infrastructure (mainly schools), caused by deindustrialization after the Reunification, structural change in retail and craft trade, unclear ownership titles, outmigration and a falling birth rate. In the past few years, the neighborhood has also begun to experience revitalization and gentrification, with building renovation and a lively restaurant and bar scene following and attracting an influx of young people to the area.

b) Description of users and use

Each year, the Spielfeld agency choses shopkeepers from a pool of more than 40 applicants in the fields of fashion and industrial design, arts, photography, communications, and music. The storefronts each serve multiple functions of gallery space for exhibitions and events, retail shop, workshop and office. Many of the shopkeepers are themselves neighborhood residents, although it is not a requirement of the program.

The Boxion shopkeepers network amogst themselves and with other enterprises in the district to organize publicity eventes, including bi-monthly public tours of the shops and a summer arts and culture festival which draws more than 2,000 visitors to the neighborhood.

c) Desciption of spatial and time patterns of use

The ten storefronts are clustered in groups near or along two streets in the district, and each storefront is about 30-70 meters square. The storefronts are generally previously built out, with minimal infrastructural investments required from the users. 

Althought the project and subsidized rental agreements officially last for one year, four of the twelve shopkeepers in 2001 took over the leases for the storefronts, and four others relocated within the area.

d) Benefits and conflicts for the different parties involved
Artists (users)
+ subsidized rents, very affordable space
+ support of network of local artists and municipality

Private Landlords
+ foot traffic and publicity for property
+ physical condition of property is maintained if not improved
+/- income from rents during period of temporary occupancy, though often below market rate

Municipality (Neighborhood Management)
+ contracts responsibility for project management to private agency, which reduces the municipality’s responsibilty and overhead costs of overseeing the project

e) Effect for the neighboorhood/ overall city
Boxion effectively supports start-up enterprises and strives to promote the establishment of businesses in the arts industry to create jobs in the area and to reduce store vacancies in the longer term. Yet the goal of neighborhood regeneration may conflict with this support of the arts, similar to the correlation between the arts and processes of gentrification in other areas. Other criticisms of the project include its unsustainability beyond government funding and the dubious relevance of the shops to the needs of local residents. Nevertheless, the Boxion project has created a successful mechanism to convert empty shops into economic incubators.

Web links


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

legal: Spielfield, a for-profit company, contracted by the Neighborhood Management Team, runs the program and leases from the private landlords.

map of Boxion - Project

reader comments

Add a comment

---   about    site map    legal    privacy    workspace    faq   ---