It’s a fast and direct route to Lichtenberg from the centre of Berlin Alexanderplatz via Frankfurter Allee. In between, the houses get smaller, detached houses seem rural, before seeing the high-rise buildings by the Tierpark. In a moment, we are meeting up with Ronja Schneeweiß, who will get the keys to her new apartment with her small family today at 2 pm. A small park is located behind the car park of the two new ten-storey buildings. New trees are being planted on the square’s terrace just in front of Ristorante Marco Polo Uno. The asphalt sparkles with a freshness. The restaurant, which has been on the square since 1995, is now moving from the typically East German MZG (multi-purpose restaurant) building to the ground floor of the Dolgensee Center.
Four cranes are turning in the courtyard alongside the usual construction site noises and digger debris. 678 apartments will be built here by 2021. The first curtains are already hanging in the windows in the first completed section of the building, some are just make-shift towels hanging. The balconies appear even larger due to the brightly striped facades. A couple drags a wardrobe into the lift, a family pushes a pram loaded with large bags into the pram storage room. And there we see Ronja Schneeweiß waving from the window on the 8th floor to the inner courtyard: “Hello”, she calls, “Come on up!”
Ronja is from Berlin, her partner Philipp from Eisenhüttenstadt. Together with their two-year-old son Moritz, they are, as of today, tenants of a 100-square-meter apartment with four bedrooms and a view: a clear view of the Berlin skyline, the Allianz Tower, Ostkreuz Station and even the tip of the TV Tower.
Ronja has a broad smile when she asks us to come in and she tells us that it was very cool to just get the keys. And that she’s happy that they still have two weeks to get settled, organise and paint everything before moving in. At the moment, they still live in sixty square meters at Volkspark Friedrichshain. They’ve been thinking about moving to a larger apartment ever since little Moritz was born, especially since they still have plans to expand their family. Ronja quickly noticed that it’s not very easy to find a big apartment in Berlin. She works part-time as a primary school teacher and her partner Philipp is still a student.
“I earn well, but it was never enough to get an apartment. And now it has worked out. I’m going to start working full-time again soon,” she explains as she shows us the apartment with its two bathrooms and the open plan kitchen-living room with balcony, where you could put a double bed in summer.
What Ronja and Philipp liked about the apartment right away was that it was bright and, most importantly, not too expensive: “The social connections are very important to us as is daycare and public transport. I have to go to Erkner every day for my job as a primary school teacher and with the S3 it’s perfect from here. And since Philipp doesn’t know exactly where he’ll end up after university, it’s a small gamble. The fact that there will be a Rewe here is great”, Ronja tells us, while Philipp is measuring the imaginary kitchen on the floor.
It’s the first time for the both of them living in a new building. “For us, first-time occupancy is something special. When no one else has lived here before. That’s really cool,” says Ronja.
When asked about the first plans for the new apartment, Ronja is bursting with energy. Philipp would leave the walls white for now, she says, explaining her partner’s approach, but she’s sure that if you don’t do something straight away, then you never will. At weekend, they want put a bed in the alcove next to the hallway and plan the kitchen.
“And I’ll cover some things with masking tape and do some painting on the side. I’ve already brought a thousand colour fans with me from the hardware store and today I’m going to put them on the wall and have a look,” Ronja is an ardent Pinterest fan, in her element. The two of them have a lot to do until their first night in their new apartment. When we say goodbye, Ronja and Philipp invite us to come back when everything is finished. We will definitely do that.
Photos © Felix Seyfert