Garden East is an inner city neighborhood of Kiel. It is situated on the Eastern side of the fjord and is geographically located centrally in the city, but at the same time its natural connections with other neighborhoods and the city center are extremely limited. The port and the railway cuts off the natural links to the harbor and to the North, East and South, inner city highways re-enforce the sense of an urban island. There is even an unfinished bridge, that leads from the district to the centre, but stops half through. The dense urban scape is varied, with handsome 4-5 story terraces from the start of the 20th century, post war public/social housing and some new well designed residential developments, which have newly landscaped open green spaces and the outdoor swimming pool of Katzheide, and some good communal facilities compensate for a lack of recreational space in the neighborhood. The heart of Gaarden East is Vinetplatz, with market stalls and lively outdoor cafes and events.
The population of Garden East is around 18,500 and 58% of them have a migratory background. These are dominated by Turkish immigrant families. Due to the informality of the place and cheap rentals, students and young people are also increasingly moving into the neighborhood. The multicultural nature of the area is its core identity, also giving the neighborhood a distinct role in Kiel. There is a varied and lively atmosphere and many signs of cultural diversity. But at the same time the community suffers from unemployment and high numbers of recipients of social welfare. Together with high density of population and indices of social disruption, the neighborhood has many issues. This reflects the situation of many inner city neighborhoods in many larger European cities, where certain areas “attract” marginal groups due to the openness of the neighborhood, but at the same time, compound the social pressures.
A key issue for Gaarden East is the legacy of the district’s negative public image in Kiel and this also affects a negative or aggressive self image in the Gaarden East itself. The reputation of Gaarden East is, in many ways, far more negative than the reality. Stigmatization and ethnic / cultural segregation is an increasing issue and this is apparent both on a city wide level, but also in the Gaarden itself as there are many ethnic/ cultural minorities who feel marginalized. The “Sociale Stadt” program is the main driver of social change in Kiel and with Gaarden as one of the key districts prioritized for investment in the period 2017- 2020. There is a strong political motivation in the city to support a new strategy, particularly as existing strategies are failing.
Visions and aims:
Aim is to generate a process of cultural revitalization of Gaarden through a process of reactivating the potential of the most culturally diverse neighborhood in the city and reconnecting to the city physically, symbolically and mentally. There is an awareness of the need to engage the community in a process of social innovation which is authentic and which can also trigger a new perspective on the qualities of the neighborhood. An important aspect is to secure that this vision is played out in the public domain and that the potential of the public spaces in the neighborhood – both existing and also new – can act as points of meeting and exchange.
Cultural planning approach:
The annual festival in Gaarden can act as a strong energizer and collective platform. Linking the local initiative to the key cultural players in the city, but most importantly, the everyday culture in the neighborhood, making it visible, giving it value and a platform in the public space. This project can mentor/support local arts institutions to develop University of Fine Arts and Design; The Kiel Contemporary Art Museum to create innovative/ investigative projects, which can attract external attention and address current reflection in question of identity, also “rebrand” the neighborhood. This project can mentor /support local arts institutions to develop the capacity to take on more central role in the neighborhoods and to link to local social and economic drivers and opening the neighborhood for more positive initiatives which link to the community.