Time leaps and creeps onwards, into the future, even in Berlin. Indulge me as I peer at the bottom of my teacup. Here are my top ten, highly likely Berlin predictions for the year.
1. The interests of the disenfranchised converge: post-Lampedusa refugees kicked out of their protest camp on Oranienplatz will join forces with the Bulgarian squatters of the Eisfabrik, that abandoned factory on the Spree, and move into the building site of the Stadtschloss on Museum Island. The Humboldt Forum will become a place for the “exchange of world cultures” years before the officially opening. The resulting construction delay means the fake palace’s construction costs (€600 million and rising) will spiral even further out of control. A brutal battle ensues to evict the hundreds of squatters sleeping in the Prussian prestige project.
2. Veganism becomes so mainstream that Mayor Klaus Wowereit – never shy of riding a trend – cranks out a ghostwritten animal-free cookbook. Wowi makes headlines worldwide with a photo op at Curry 36, vegan Wurst in hand, posing in a too-tight Meat is Murder t-shirt. Another food megatrend: indoor street food! Close on the heels of that whole street-art-in-galleries thing.
3. BER? What more can we say: Berlin once dreamt of a big fancy airport. Instead it got another event location. In 2014 we’ll see more festivals, concerts and trade fairs at BER, which is, after all, conveniently located next to the fully operational Schönefeld airport.
4. Start-up death. Venture capitalists wake up to the fact that not a single truly successful internet company has emerged from Berlin’s Silicon Allee and shift their cash to other ‘creative’ hotspots with even lower costs: Leipzig, Budapest, Istanbul… sparking mass layoffs in the tech sector, following in the footsteps of 9flats and Fab.com, who shut down their Berlin offices last year.
5. The year of Wedding! As we’ve been predicting every year since 2002. But this time the gentrification is for real: €5 bottles of IPA have been spotted in hitherto hipster-free zones. We’re more hopeful than ever that the natives of Wedding will embrace single-origin coffee, organic street food and the ‘creative class’ like never before.
6. Inspired by Vice‘s collection of Holocaust Selfies, that Grindr weirdness, and now that video of people pissing and partying at the Denkmal on New Year’s Eve, tourist kids will get even more stupid, extreme and tasteless at the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe: faux-porn, real porn, faux-snuff movies, or doing that creepy French “quenelle” salute for the entertainment of their friends. “Anti-Semitism rampant in the city that masterminded the Holocaust,” scream the Israeli media. The German Ambassador in Jerusalem is called in for a chat with Benjamin Netanyahu and told a fence must be built around the Memorial. Berlin complies.
7. The English version of Spiegel Online will close down for good by the end of the year. In December the site, a pure vanity project for Germany’s largest news magazine, cut its staff from five to 1.4 (whatever that means) full-time journalism positions. Oh well. Time to learn German after all? There’s still The Local, though. But will they make it through the end of the year?
8. The fiery debate over whether flats or even a brand-new library should be built on the Tempelhofer Feld continues. Then, out of the blue, Wowereit announces that construction of Berlin’s 65th and largest shopping centre will commence immediately on the former airfield – to help pay for the library. Meanwhile, the miniscule Potsdamer Platz Arkaden closes its doors after all its H&Ms and Zaras move down the road to the 270-shop Leipziger Platz Quartier (the city’s 64th).
9. Traffickers lose hundreds of kilos of coke thanks to an accidental Aldi banana shipment. Locally produced Brandenburg crystal meth becomes the drug of choice in the German capital.
10. Silvester 2015: zombies attack Berlin. The Pirates were right all along: we’re not prepared.