urban catalist

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tashy endres
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Garanties/ Liabilities

legal  status

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The contractual agreement between a Berlin district municipality and the German railways over a temporary use of a disused railway area is a successful example for action by public bodies beyond conventional models. The municipality stepped in as a guarantor to the owner on behalf of the temporary user group and the site owner. The problems that led to its premature collapse expose the current weaknesses and potentials for improvements.

01.07.1999 - 30.06.2002

RAW Warschauer Strasse, Berlin-Friedrichshain

art, culture, social projects, start ups    

Appropriation of vacant spaces for cultural and social projects, promotion of low-cultural activities, stabilisation of a deprived city district with high demand for regeneration.

Without the proactive role and the engagement of the district authority no temporary use would have been possible. The municipality took on the responsibility for health and safety and damage liability, and guaranteed regular payments of the agreed rents though a contractual and therefore legally binding arrangement. However, apart from the additional administrative efforts, no costs occurred for the municipality since all of these responsibilities were passed on to the temporary users in a sub-contractual agreement.

Through the involvement of the municipal authority additional public commitments such as the support of local cultural programmes could be effectively combined. The authority’s role changed from passive funding and subsidisation to a proactive and political role, which was largely dependent on the engaged action of individuals within the administration who bypassed usual bureaucratic principles. However, this very dependence on individuals also proofed as a weakness in the longer term. During the two year duration of the contract the staff involved was replaced twice due to new elections and administrative reforms such as the fusion of the two city districts Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Since, essential aspects about the use of the area had been made in an informal way outside the contract (§22,1), tensions about the interpretation of certain agreements arose. In this context, differences about the planned building works could not be resolved and the contractual relationship resumed.

Despite all difficulties the unbureaucratic and proactive role of the municipality as a guarantor and mediator is a successful intermediate model and framework for the development and promotion of temporary use.

POSITIVE ASPECTS of the contractual relationship
- clarification of liability and health and safety issues
- combination of legal, social and cultural responsibilities of district authority leads to combined and effective action
- sub-tenancy  agreement for 3 years creates certainty of planning and allows for acquisition of funds by the users

- frequent job changes within administration work against principle of informal agreements
- essential issues such as the use of outdoor areas, rights of way and access, options for expansion etc. were not clarified in the contract
- no financial options for necessary renovation works were considered
- expectations of the owner with regard to temporary use programmes were not clarified

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