As one writer once said, Berlin is a city condemned always to become, never to be. Indeed, even today, two decades after the reunification, Berlin seems to be in a process of transformation. This restlessness, fortunately, is translated into one of the most vibrant city lifestyles in the world. Bach concertos in churches are as common as underground techno parties and Michelin-starred restaurants compete with canteens selling bratwursts. Starbucks are trying to win market share against small cafés operated by leftist collectives and independent boutiques in Prenzlauer Berg exist alongside big brands stores in the consumerist heaven of Kurfürstendamm. The nightlife is one of the best in Europe and prices for drinks and food are ridiculously low, compared to cities like London or Amsterdam. Berlin seems to strike the perfect balance between the meticulousness of Western Europe and the care-free attitude of the Mediterranean countries (with the exception of the weather, unfortunately).
Is there perhaps a lesson Eindhoven could learn from Berlin? It would be unfair, of course, to compare the two cities. However, I feel that the example of Berlin shows that quite unremarkable urban areas (Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg) can become hotspots of creative activity with international appeal, given the right conditions. Could Eindhoven ever obtain the critical mass for something like that? It is already a major hi-tech center in Europe, so I think it is not impossible. The development plans for the Strijp area (where the old Philips factories are still standing) are definitely a step in the right direction. Until then, we can always visit Berlin for inspiration.
Graffiti, East Side Gallery (remnants of the Berlin Wall)