After Urban Gardening, the new trend: self-built benches. Benjamin Kies and Bella Berger are the pioneers. Soon with building instructions on the web!
The latest Benching Berlin work of art stands on the Landwehrkanal opposite Gorlitzer Park Photo: Benching Berlin
This story shows once again: If you can read social media, you have a clear advantage. Already weeks ago I wondered which good spirit has attached the small wooden bench to the fence at the Neukollner Weigandufer, actually it is rather a board that hangs horizontally on chains, so that you can now sit there nicely with a view of the water almost directly on the same, if you dare to climb over the barrier. If I had searched on Instragram for #urbangardening #woodworking #neukoelln, I would have known long ago: Benching Berlin did it.
Meanwhile, the thing – typical Berlin – has become a real trend: The paper media write about it, the follower numbers of the hobby carpenters rise quasi hourly. The two makers, Benjamin Kies (31) and Bella Berger (33), are correspondingly cheerful in announcing that they will now also be making other parts of the city happy with their self-made benches, starting with Wedding and Prenzlauer Berg. For this, they have been asking their Insta-community for suggestions since Thursday: "You know that perfect benching spot? Write us!"
It all started two or three years ago, Kies tells us on the good old telephone. "My apartment at the time had no balcony, no garden, so I built a bench so you could sit outside and have a beer with friends." That went over well with neighbors, too, he says. He then built a bench again and again for friends – out of plywood, scraps of wood, whatever you had lying around.
Then, at the beginning of March, he and Bella Berger decided to do more of the same – and opened an Instagram account. Why? "As an informal drive for us, but also to reach people outside our neighborhood. We hope others will pick up the idea."
Conquering public space
It is indeed captivating: conquering small patches of public space with seating, so that people can settle down in beautiful places without having to consume something right away at the nearest gastronomic establishment. Because the urban benches, as everyone knows, are often not located where they are needed – or are broken or occupied.
Speaking of broken benches, Kies says there has been little vandalism so far. They regularly inspect their benches and sometimes have to replace a board, "but people also take care of it themselves, repair damage, plant flowers around it. That’s quite nice to observe."
If you feel inspired now: On Instagram, Kies shows in a video how you can build a bench yourself with just a few boards. The building instructions are to follow soon.
Surprisingly, there hasn’t even been any trouble with the authorities yet because of the guerrilla-like appropriation of urban space. As long as traffic and plants are not endangered, the Berliner Zeitung quotes a spokesman for the Neukolln district office, they have nothing against it.