ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics / Berlin, Germany

ZK/U – Center for Art and Urbanistics / Berlin, Germany

for artists, scholars and practitioners in cross-disciplinary exchange

Series: Urban Contemporary –
Hotspot Berlin (Moabit), PART III

Fillip of a district through arts and research

Arising from the artists’ collective and registered association KUNSTrePUBLIK, ZK/U is the outcome of an integral concept. The Center for Art and Urbanistics has become an independent and well-established art space within only two years of its existence.


Today, it is a genuinely recommendable residency with 14 natty studios as self-contained units, a place for multi-disciplinary programmes and it offers a vivid exchange with an audience linked to the art scene as well as with the hood of Berlin-Moabit.
Once a month it is opening the doors for interested folks and invites to an OpenHaus event. A guided tour by Elena Azzedin and Petra Linhartova, meandering through three floors, introduces the current artists, their projects and artworks.

Also the header photo shows the currently installed artwork ‘We Were Promised Flying Cars’ by Allan Binns, or the artwork by Chris Cawkwell from the UK called ‘AIR Bank’.
Visitors could leave their breath, writing
their name on the little bottle, in order to make the artist rich if ever they become famous. This is related to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie selling their breath in 2005 for about 350 pounds.

It has to be pointed out that the atmosphere created by the staff feels truly comfortable, cosy and wholesome. At the same time they arrive to provide freedom for inspiration and creativity, backed-up by scientifically sound and academic knowledge.

Budi Adi Nugroho: ‘Sounds of Berlin’
Alasdair Duncan: ‘Search for Meaning’

The aims
The residents, complete list here, are supposed to elaborate their project they applied with. Moreover, the main focus of the ZK/U residency programme is the cross-disciplinary exchange between artists and practitioners. The outcomes of their individual and collaborative work may include interactive schemes, symposia and exhibitions according to the conceptual frame.
Therefore the Center for Art and Urbanistics offers its fellows great working and communication structures. Various spaces are available for production, exhibiting, interchange and leisure, including the big hall, the library (in progress) and the basement for certain events.
Monthly visits by curators are scheduled, so the fellows have the opportunity of individual meetings and to collaborate with them in their projects.

The terrace, separated in a part accessible for the public also including a bar, and the ‘residents only’ part fenced by a red Chinese swing gate (title photo). For sure this veranda, also wheelchair appropriate, is one of the most outstanding features of this location. Enjoying the afternoon sun and the open view to the surrounding park attached to a playground, and the BEHALA industry building in sight: This will be the remembrance picture in mind for every fellow having spent time here.


‘The Island’
An interactive piece of art by the artist Asha called ‘Die Insel’ is mapping special places within the district
of Moabit.
Everybody who has a particular memory or made a special experience in correlation with a particular spot can write it on a flag and pin it on the wall.
As the immediate neighbourhood plays an important role for the urbanist and integrative agenda, local municipal workshops for specialised productions and installations can be realised. This happened e.g. during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer with organised and curated public viewings in conjunction with socio-political issues.

Gütermarkt, the goods and skills fair, maybe even flee market, is a new concept with the aim to bring together artists from ZK/U, craftsmen from the hood and private flea-market sellers in symbiotic harmony. Alteration-tailor repairs your favourite trousers and gets advices from fashionable artist. Second-hand hair-dryer gets fixed by electro-specialist directly on site and used by mobile hairdresser. Individual furniture, clothes and DIY products without ‘Mitte’-surcharge are the goal to help Moabit becoming the home of Hipster-Pensioners, No-Logo-Youth and DIY-Freaks.
It takes place 7th and 28th September 2014, and also a winters’ market is planned.
For detailed info see the Facebook events page.

The communal kitchen is – as always – the heart of the co-residency and to sit together while eating is the best opportunity to exchange ideas and opinions. This phenomenon was adapted for programming: With the ‘Speisekino’, the dinner screenings, selected films are shown, if possible having attached persons on the spot like directors or actors to explain about it.
Therewith thematically attached guest chefs are designing a menu, like nationally or regionally typical meals, trying to use organic and sustainable groceries.
The event takes place weekly, in summer time outdoor at the beautiful terrace, and in case the Berlin summer is not as warm as it is supposed to be, it is switched to the cinema and auditorium space inside the hall. 

The building
The site could not have been chosen better for raising a Centre for Art and Urbanistics – not only for its closeness to the Technical University and the University of Arts in the neighbouring quarter Charlottenburg.
ZK/U board members:
Matthias Einhoff and Philip Horst
Surely the initiators immediately had a vision in mind when they first put a hand on the run down areal of the former railway depot in 2008. The site is well accessible at the western part of the S-Bahn circle line and on the edges of Berlin’s largest inland port, Westhafen.
There were years of struggling for this location as Philip Horst, one of the founding directors, tells, but they finally succeeded.
With setting up a clever financing plan and combining supportive sources, they could realise the reconstruction, preserving the original character of the building, following safety regulations and setting architectural highlights.
In August 2012 the first residents were welcomed.

The directory has the ethics to esteem the contribution of every team member who is involved, at least with a little salary or allowance. Also concerned about the interns, they help to find external funding to make sure that the internship is financed and/or part of a study programme for a fair exchange. The not-for-profit organisation is aware that interns play an important role and appreciates it.
ZK/U is actively connected in international collaborations with other AIRs like Villa Aurora, with universities, art institutions, independent initiatives and cultural programmes like PICTURE BERLIN.
As it is eager to establish their work on a broad, interdisciplinary and heterogeneous footing, already a wide range of international partners in arts and research can be listed.

The facts
A lot of applications have to be reviewed and shortlisted by the jury. Open calls are sent out via the broad network of ZK/U, says coordinator of the residency programme Samuel Kalika. Being an artist himself, the Frenchman understands the needs and longings of the fellows very well.
The residency costs for individuals are 500-800 Euro per month, depending on the unit and their availability. Duration can vary between 2-8 months as artistic or research residencies in a 32-53 sqm studio. Of course, support in refunding with national bodies is provided and all existing networking facilities are enabled. Calls are out on regular basis, just check deadlines on ZK/U website.


More info on the ZK/U homepage and on Facebook.

Photos: A.M.;
Interview with Philip Horst ((left), founding director and board member,
and Samuel Kalika (right), manager residency programme, ZK/U –
Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik, Berlin, 21st August 2014.