The first squatter community I ever visited on my travels was the RAW Tempel in Berlin, Germany. It was immersive. It was unadulterated. It was as real as real could be. And what was once an abandoned train depot turned artist commune quickly became my inspiration for seeking out these types of communities on my travels, and eventually sparked ‘Adverse Possession‘.
Under the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in East Germany, all property was owned by the government. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the responsibility of property ownership was placed on the German citizens. Many buildings across the east in cities like Weimar, Leipzig, and Dresden were left abandoned, but some were salvaged by artists who used the fall of Communism as a means to begin communities that would reflect their values.
The RAW (pronounced ‘errahwee’) Tempel in Berlin’s Friedrichshain district began as a train depot that was bombed during World War II and left a dilapidated pile of rubble for over 45 years. But immediately after “Mauerfall” artists moved into what structures remained and have spent the past 26 years building the artists village that it is today.
The mission of RAW Tempel is to provide a safe space for artists to live and create as well as a community center for visitors and residents of Berlin. The RAW Tempel collective is home to over 70 projects related to music, the visual and performing arts, flea markets, social and political activities, and underground clubbing. They’ve even constructed a Cross-fit Gym, a Taekwondo dojo, an indoor skate park, and a rock climbing wall built on the side of an old water silo.