Die Gärtnerei / Growing a program for refugees
Building purpose and community in Berlin
Die Gärtnerei, which means “the nursery” in German, is a community garden, urban gardening center, and German-language school that was founded in July 2015 by Berlin nonprofit, Schlesische 27 in conjunction with architecture firm, raumlaborberlin.
Die Gärtnerei primarily works with refugees and asylum seekers who are waiting for German residence permits. While they are in this period of transition, Die Gärtnerei brings together refugees, volunteers, and local residents through planting, cooking, and classes on gardening, language and the navigation of German bureaucracy. All of these activities take place in an environment that that serves as an example of "public space activation, art installation, and urban respite."
In partnership with raumlaborberlin, a team of Design Strategy and Strategic Foresight MBA students and architecture students from California College of the Arts (CCA) were invited to spend a week at Die Gärtnerei in June 2016 to evaluate Die Gärtnerei’s current situation and develop recommendations to grow their revenue and donation model to become more self-sustainable.
Following a series of strategy and design-thinking sessions with staff and participants, and conducting interviews in the Neukölln neighborhood, we found that the biggest pain point lay in connecting Die Gärtnerei to the neighborhood at large. Staff and participants held monthly events for the community where they shared the fruits of their labor at Die Gärtnerei. While these were well-attended by friends and supporters, many of the local residents were only vaguely aware of what went in the garden.
Die Gärtnerei needed a way to get out in the neighborhood to connect with the community, promote their programming and share their harvest. So our team developed a plan to build a portable kiosk. The kiosk was crafted from available materials - by CCA students and staff from raumlabor.
The kiosk was designed as an extension of the garden, a "deconstructed greenhouse." Designed and built in one week, (including an accompanying business plan), the kiosk serves as both a retail training tool for participants and a transactional space that will help Die Gärtnerei gain more recognition for its work and impact, as well as providing an additional source of income through the sale of garden items like flowers and honey.
Incorporating armatures to display goods and a counter to have tea, the kiosk promotes Die Gärtnerei’s garden products to the community and fosters dialogue between refugees and local residents. The kiosk takes Die Gärtnerei to the street and nearby parks, creating a space for exchange, wherever it goes.