Berlin's vagabound chic: the world's most beautiful homeless hostel

Reply Sun 23 Nov, 2008 12:20 pm


With chandeliers instead of neon lighting and designer furnishings instead of springless sofas, a newly revamped homeless hostel in south Berlin looks more like a hip hotel -- and aims to give some dignity to those worn out by life on the streets.

With its exterior daubed in sunshine yellow and sky blue, the new homeless hostel stands out in its row of pale buildings. And its interior is equally exceptional. As well as glitzy chandeliers, there are wooden floorboards, a gold border encircles the walls and the furniture looks plucked straight from a design catalogue.

But this is no hip new Berlin hotel. It is a revamped homeless hostel named Reichtum 2, or "wealth", the work of Berlin-based artist Miriam Kilali. And wealth is something sorely lacking in the lives of the 21 men who now live in the hostel.

The hostel, which reopened its doors this week, was designed to restore a sense of self-worth in people who have been dealt a raw deal, to show them that they too deserve a decent home. "I wanted to give homeless people, people who had lost everything in their life, respect and dignity back," Kilali told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "I wanted to create a place where they could recover from the stress of life on the street."

But the creation of the hostel has not been without setbacks. At first, many were skeptical about donating to the project -- saying it was a waste of money to so extensively decorate a home for men many regard as just alcoholics on the margins of society. There were also doubts whether those living and working at the hostel would feel at home in their freshly redecorated base.

But the swish end-result has won praise from the home's residents and Gebewo, the organization that runs the hostel. It has trumpeted it as "the most beautiful homeless shelter in the world."
Full report at Spiegel

'Gebewo' is a member association of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg's charity ("Diakonisches Werk"), but is an oecumenical organisation.
Their work is secular.

More phtos (the above are copied/pasted from there) on the artists website:
Reichtum 2 - the Berlin hostell

Hotel Marfosi - the Moscow hostel
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