In 2006 Dimitri Hegemann resurrected a defunct an old power plant called Mitte that once provided energy for the side of Berlin inside of East Germany. Inside of what is now called Kraftwerk Berlin, he reopened his techno club Tresor which had previously resided in a bank vault (Tresor is german for vault), and the rest of the 86,000 square foot space is used for exhibitions and events. Now, as you may have heard, Hegemann has his eyes set on the Fisher Body Plant as a potential location for a new techno club in Detroit.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Berlin was a tough, gritty city with abandoned structures and cheap rent which attracted artists and grassroots businesses. Sound familiar? It smacks of the story we hear about Detroit’s revitalization. Hegemann is spearheading an effort called the Detroit-Berlin Connection which earlier this year brought a dozen or so influential Berliners to Detroit for a symposium with likeminded Detroiters at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit). The group sees Detroit as ripe to become a hub of underground culture. Beyond just similarities of economic circumstance and aesthetic, Detroit and Berlin are inextricably linked by another thread, techno music. Though techno was born in Detroit it has never taken off here like it has in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe. Techno music, according to Hegemann, played a crucial role in the revitalization and reunification of Berlin which has made remarkable strides over the past 25 years.
Hegemann is busy cooking up plans for the Fisher Body Plant, which is 536,000 square feet in size. Ideas include a pop-up restaurant, festival, startup co-working space, and techno club. Hegemann is working with area developer Ed Siegel, who pointed out in a Free Press article that Detroit is also quite different from Berlin in many ways and suggested that Detroit may not have the type of crowd coming in to the city on the weekends to keep such a large club afloat. However we’ll have to wait and see what Detroit wants to do with the plant.
Looking through the calendar for the year at the Kraftwerk space, there is a large five-day electronic music festival takes place each year called Berlin Atonal. The entire festival is held inside old power plant and includes performances, installations, seminars and afterparties. It reminds us of an indoor version Movement, the famous electronic music festival which happens every Memorial Day in Detroit. The pictures below give you a glimpse of what that a similar festival at the Fisher Body could look like.
The concept has a lot of potential. We would like to see the Fisher plant put to good use, as its current condition is a hazard. Recently, a firefighter was injured when an elevator shaft collapsed during a fire fight in the plant.
Killing Sound at Berlin Atonal. The industrial feel of the old electric plant permeates every inch of the space.
The industrial space is great for visual arts, especially with light. This is DELTΔ by Olivier Ratsi.
There are also opportunities for a variety of creative elements. This is a portrait of artist Søs Gunver Ryberg.
Panel at a room at Kraftwerk Berlin featuring old computer installations that are 7 feet tall.
The crowd at Berlin Atonal looks other-worldly, as if they were about to be beamed up to the ceiling.
OHM Berlin is also at the same address. Looks like one big party!
On can only speculate on what the Fisher Body Plant could be, but if Kraftwerk Berlin is any indication, it would be one creative space. Thanks again to Berlin Atonal for allowing us to share Camille Blake‘s great photos.