The Joy of Benches in Berlin
As it turns out, the month I had planned to start filming for Park Project Berlin, I was invited to Marseille for four weeks (which ended up being five because of the air traffic control strike and a mix up between the English word for Thursday).
So just when I planned to dive into exploring the parks of Berlin, I ended up spending time at parks in Marseille.
Seeing parks in France has given me more insights into the value of parks in Berlin. As is often the case, you can learn a lot by experiencing a different place and point of view.
At first I loved the public spaces of Marseille, especially the central Cours Julien. In my short time there, I regularly bumped into people I had recently met by spending time in the area. It made the city seem small and friendly.
Images of Cours Julien
Photograph by Laura J. Lukitsch
It was only after I was there for some time did I realize that to sit, I had to either pay for something or walk kilometers to find a public bench.
Tourists love the café culture in Paris and cities in France. But those sidewalks full of tables mean there often is no space for a public bench.
“It was only after I was in Marseille for some time did I realize that to sit, I had to either pay or walk kilometers to find a public bench.”
So if you purchase a croissant and take it to go, you either have to eat it while standing, or in the case of my experience in Marseille, walk the 1.2 k to sit by the port or enter the Saint Jean where there are lovely seating areas but in order to access these your bags and person are subject to a search and scan with a metal detector.
This has made me very interested in the benches of Berlin.
In one of my recent film outings, I filmed at least six extremely large benched, probably the each could seat between 6-15 people, along with mini-benches and green grassy areas. In this one-block park alone, it could probably seat over 100 people.
And now I’m seeing benches everywhere I look.
So, expect a study of benches at some point in the year.
In the meantime, enjoy the little video of the benches of Annemirl Bauer Platz. The park was named after the female artist Annemirl Bauer. More on her in a future post.