Where life lives

Whether they’re in a classical modernist estate, a large housing development, a stylish older building or a new build – no two homes are alike. The people who live – and, increasingly, work – in all these different kinds of homes are just as diverse as the properties themselves. But they all have one thing in common: they all want to feel good in their home and their neighbourhood.

Gabriele, plant lover and amateur gardener

Gabriele lives in the Berlin district of Zehlendorf. She loves her home, her leafy surroundings and her whole neighbourhood. The retiree feels at home here in west Berlin. She and her husband hope to stay here for a long time to come.

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When I’m down at the garden and our neighbour stops by, I’ll have a little chat with her first.

Gabriele

Gabriele lives in the Berlin district of Zehlendorf. She loves her home, her leafy surroundings and her whole neighbourhood. The retiree feels at home here in west Berlin. She and her husband hope to stay here for a long time to come.

Gabriele has never dreamed of a palace. Not when she was living in Prenzlauer Berg in former East Berlin, back in the days when the Berlin Wall still divided the city – no, it was the garden with its little patch to tend to outside the window of her first-floor apartment, just a hop from her windowsill, which brought her so much happiness. Nor did she long for a fancy place to live in after her application to emigrate was approved, allowing her to make the short journey to Zehlendorf in West Berlin. Together with her husband, she went on to find a top-floor apartment with a balcony. There’s a garden patch for her to tend to here, too. “I come out of the bedroom, I go into the living room, and everything is bathed in light. Then I head out onto the balcony for peace and quiet that does me good,” says the 75-year-old. Life doesn’t get better than this – here on the border between urban living and the great outdoors.

Gabriele and her husband are very attached to this apartment. They’ve spent the last 30 years here and they still aren’t finding it so tough to climb the stairs all the way to the top floor, despite advancing age. “Of course, we need to make new plans for ourselves now. We need to know: ‘OK, here’s what we can still do, and here’s what we can’t.’ Accepting that and putting it into action is blooming difficult.” In any case, the familiar surroundings of their own home are increasingly important in old age, adds Gabriele.

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Serkan, family man and forest walker

There are baby bottles in the kitchen, a playmat on the living room floor, a cot and bunk beds in one of the bedrooms – make no mistake: there are kids living here. Three boys, to be precise, aged between five months and ten years old. Serkan is their father. For him, family is what matters most – that quickly becomes clear. The same goes for his wife.

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Here, you don’t have to worry about the kids playing outside.

Serkan

Both light up when they talk about their neighbourhood in Britz, in the south of Berlin, where they’ve lived for eleven years. “When I take the dog for a walk in the morning, I can hearing the birds singing,” says Serkan. He didn’t know it could be like this: “I used to live in Wilmersdorf, near the city motorway.” He was drawn to the leafy surroundings here. He calls the path through the vast tree-lined green space leading to the old estate in Britz “my little forest”. There are also the gardens belonging to tenants on the ground floor of his building, where everyone does their best to look after their own little piece of nature. As he readily acknowledges, this really matters to him. Why is it so important? “Because nature means life”. But they didn’t just move to a larger apartment in the neighbourhood because of the leafy surroundings. “It’s a safe place to live, too,” says Serkan. And how are the neighbours? “We always meet someone we know whenever we leave the house. Sometimes we even get a nice wave and a hello from the balcony.”

The kitchen is a special place in the home. This is where the family cooks and bakes together. Then they might head out to the estate and the nearby circus or playground. If the weather isn’t ideal, all the more reason to stay indoors and play a game or make popcorn and watch a film. Together – that’s the main thing.

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Hans-Jürgen, art lover and collector

A whole life won’t fit in just one apartment. But the memories that come with it can – and Hans-Jürgen and his partner Rainer love to collect them. The neighbours and leafy surroundings are another source of satisfaction. The couple are right at home in their apartment here.

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You never know what can happen. So it’s good to have neighbours you can rely on.

Hans-Jürgen

At 61, Hans-Jürgen has taken early retirement. He lives in the Berlin district of Marienfelde, where he moved with his life partner Rainer a year ago. Both have a lifelong love of collecting. Inside their apartment, you’ll find a samovar, 2,500 books, gleaming green uranium glass and decorative porcelain as far as the eye can see. Their collection is a lodger who takes up a lot of space. “We can’t have too much to drink in here, or we’d cause a lot of damage,” jokes Hans-Jürgen. But the objects they keep mean more than just decoration. For Hans-Jürgen, they remind him of the special moments in his life, every single day. “I’ve got a lot of gifts from people who are very special to me. I take the greatest care of them, of course. For instance, the samovar reminds me of a friend from Ukraine who’s sadly no longer with us.”

But for Hans-Jürgen and Rainer, living in their own four walls is about more than making space for memories. It’s also a refuge and a retreat that promises safety and security. “In other neighbourhoods, there were residents who had a problem with our relationship. And that’s not the case here,” says Hans-Jürgen. They quickly settled into their new home – “it’s so lovely and green here”.

Hier geht es zum Video

Gabriele

Get to know Gabriele too

Serkan

Get to know Serkan too

Hans-Jürgen

Get to know Hans-Jürgen too

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