The Eisfabrik

The abandoned Eisfabrik in Berlin, Germany

The abandoned Eisfabrik in Berlin

Walking along the Spree you’ll find an ever decreasing amount of crumbling factories and halls. All are destined to make way for the MediaSpree Project, for luxury Hotels and Offices in the name of Urban Renewal. Yet one of these rotting factories has managed to temporarily evade this fate. The Eisfabrik.

Since private homes had no access to electric or gas-powered refrigerators (they hadn’t even existed yet at that time) people relied on giant Ice Factories to keep their goods cool.

 

*Warning – Eisfabrik History and Berlin Trivia*

The Norddeutsche Eiswerke AG was founded in 1872 by Carl Bolle. Bolle had purchased several plots of land throughout the city 1893- among them a piece of land on the Köpenicker Straße along the Spree. In 1896 construction for a brand new Ice Factory had begun. The Factory was completed within the same year and started producing ice rods and blocks to supply the breweries, pubs, grocers and homes with. An additional office building and 2 residential buildings were completed in 1910.  In 1914, a new Ice Machine was installed, which greatly increased the production capabilities.

Now for those of you living in Berlin – here’s a nice piece of trivia. The Districts of Berlin Mitte and Kreuzberg werent always called that, nor were they separate districts (or even part of Berlin – they belonged to Cölln). They used to be joined together under the name Luisenstadt. A Canal used to run through Luisenstadt – known as the Luisenstädtischer Kanal. It was laid dry in 1926 – and the City Gardendirector wanted to build an Indian Garden – with palm trees and all – reminiscent of the Taj Mahal. The warm water from the Eisfabrik was supposed to feed into a giant  Indian Pond.

City officials then changed their minds and wanted to build a Thermal Bath, but apparently the local catholics protested against the idea so that idea was dropped. Who would have thought that german catholics would prefer a heathen garden compared to a sanitizing bath.

Based on the original idea, the city built the beautiful garden and the Indian fountain. But not the pool.  So now when you walk through Kreuzberg, you know why there’s a beautiful rose garden and an Indian fountain in a dried up canal. (I’ve got a separate post coming up about this part of town soon)

 

The Rose Garden and the Indian Fountain in the Luisenstaedtischer Kanal in Berlin, Germany

The Rose Garden and the Indian Fountain in the Luisenstaedtischer Kanal

 

Back to the Eisfabrik.

We now reach the inevitable point in German History when everything goes to shit.  A bomb destroyed the right-wing of the Residential Building and had to be torn down. The Red Army took charge of the factory and put it under forced administration until 1948 when it was handed over to a “Consumer Cooperative”. Over the years the names of the owners changed, and the demand for ice dropped – yet surprisingly the Eisfabrik continued to produce Ice until October 1991. As with most factories from the DRR – after the wall came tumbling down, people soon realized they were operating at a substantial loss and were forced to close down.

The Factory was meant to be torn down in 1995 – but that never really materialized.

Shady deals were made and the land was handed over to another Trust Firm – which did nothing. It just sat on the land waiting for the property to gain in value.

The Eisfabrik became a popular party location, until a fire broke out under the roof of one of the buildings ruining the fun for everyone (SOUND FAMILIAR?). Parts of the property were sold off including the Engine House, Boiler House and the ice Production Machinery.

Despite the property being upgraded to a Listed Building – giving it a protected status – and against the will of the German Union of Architects, The Bundesstiftung Baukultur, Politicians from all Parties – the Trust Firm decided to tear down the Hochkuhlhäuser (the Cold Stores) – which at that point had been the oldest of its kind in Europe. There even had been an Investor who wanted to keep the Buildings intact, but the trust firm decided that it wanted to push through its own plans.

The Fate of Eisfabrik (or whats left of it) is still in Limbo. The trust firm which has refused the upkeep of the Listed buildings has been legally forced to do so by the City. It still plans on building something on the piece of land, but can’t fully do so while the rest of the buildings still stand there.

It is no longer patrolled by guards so it’s freely accessible to anyone and everyone. My suspicion is that the Trust Firm is turning a blind eye to all the illegal activity in hopes that someone will “accidentally” set another fire and burn the whole place down. Then they don’t need to bother with having to cough up the money to restore the place.

 

Front part of the Residential building of the Eisfabrik

Front part of the Residential building of the Eisfabrik

Residential Wing of the Eisfabrik in Berlin, Germany

Back of the closed up Residential Wing of the Eisfabrik

a window lever

It still works…

Empty hall on the ground floor of the Eisfabrik

One of countless empty halls. The Building is just an empty concrete shell.

remants of a water pipe system in the Eisfabrik

Remnants of the Water Pipe System

View from inside the courtyard of the Eisfabrik

View from inside the courtyard.

The Ice Machine in the Eisfabrik

The Ice Machine – Probably the most photographed object in the Eisfabrik

Nuts and Bolts

Nuts and Bolts

view over the Ice Machine from a platform in the Eisfabrik

view over the Ice Machine from a platform

Eye Bolt

Took me about 10 minutes to figure out what this was called – it’s an “Eye Bolt”

another empty hall on the first floor

An empty hall on the first floor of the Eisfabrik

more nuts and bolts

more nuts and bolts

Large empty hall on the second floor of the Eisfabrik

Most of the Halls all look the same. Filled with trash and graffiti. and clothes.

a rusting window lever

Time for a Tetanus Shot?

A dance group practicing in one of the empty halls of the eisfabrik

A dance group practicing in one of the empty halls

spray cans on a windowsill

spray cans on a windowsill

View of the Berlin TV Tower from the roof of the Eisfabrik

View of the Berlin TV Tower from the roof of the Eisfabrik

large crane gears

Some large crane gears

crane on the roof of the eisfabrik

The small crane on the Roof

Paul Weyermann Berlin-Tempelhof

Paul Weyermann Berlin-Tempelhof

the chimney of the eisfabrik in berlin germany

The Chimney of the Eisfabrik

Heres my verdict.

The place was packed with people. from teenage girls, to film students, an advertising agency was  shooting a commercial, there was even a dance crew practicing on one of the floors. This place was far from abandoned.

Sadly there isn’t much to see. Of course there’s the giant Ice/Cooling Machine, some cool graffiti  – and a crane on the roof, but that’s about it. The Eisfabrik is filled with trash and dear good it stinks like piss and shit. If you thought the staircase in Tacheles smells bad, that’s nothing compared to this. The Eisfabrik doesn’t even give your imagination the chance to come up with an explanation as to where the stench might be coming from. While im usually more focused on trying to avoid needles, or glass – or trying to avoid crashing through a rotten floor – I was rather busy dodging human excrement. There are stairs leading to the cellar – but the smell only gets worse there. I passed on the chance to explore that part.

On a more positive note, probably one of the more rewarding aspects of visiting the Eisfabrik is the view from the roof. There is access to another floor from the roof, but that is occupied by some squatting punks (that would explain the aforementioned smell) who don’t look too kindly on trespassers waltzing in their occupied living room. As long as you don’t bother them, they wont bother you.

The larger of the 2 Buildings is bricked up. If you do want to gain access, there is a way in – but I wouldn’t recommend it (Hint – it’s not the broken up entrance on the left hand side, the staircase is closed up midfloor). As most of the windows are bricked up its pitch black inside and god knows who or what is lurking inside. You wont be able to take any decent pictures inside so don’t even bother trying to get in. It’s not worth it.

Despite me being rather negative about the Eisfabrik I do suggest you visit it. As the Irishe Berliner/Abandoned Berlin always recommends, bring a Cool Beer and enjoy the sunset from the roof while you still can.

 

A young couple on the roof of the Eisfabrik

A Young Couple Enjoying the Sun – and a few Drinks

 For more pictures of the Eisfabrik, check out the Flickr Album – Eisfabrik

 

8 Comments

  1. Brilliant article together with wonderful pictures! Thank you for sharing this! I really like the shots you took, they are so vibrant with colours! And you used no HDR (at least I didn’t see any) but much of the wonderful daylight! I liked that very much!

    • Thank you very much! glad you liked it! I dont really do HDR or post processing. I wasnt too happy with the pictures that I took, I was rushing too much and getting distracted by all the people there.

  2. I like pretty much exploration of abandoned industrial places but this one is realy lovely. Picture 6 of 24 is truly amazing! Last weekend I’ve been in nice place but hadn’t time to post pictures so just phone shots if you want to see: http://bartekbe.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/skarzysko-mesko-military-area/

    • Hi Brulionman – glad you like the photos! And thanks for the link to you site, left you a comment at your post ;)

  3. David says:

    Apart from the obvious exception of the smell, I’m sorry I missed out on this exploration experience. I need to get myself there soon while it’s still warm enough to attract people to hang around.

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