these are the posts tagged ‘culture’:

the modernist housing estates of berlin

the museum island is berlin’s most famous unesco site, its central location and abundance of interesting museums ensuring its place in all guidebooks. but did you know that berlin has another, less well-known unesco attraction?

spread over 6 locations around the city, the modernist housing estates are a group of buildings built between 1910 and 1933, (especially during the weimar republic) which represent the building reform movement in berlin. here’s how unesco describes them:

The housing estates reflect, with the highest degree of quality, the combination of urbanism, architecture, garden design and aesthetic research typical of early 20th century modernism, as well as the application of new hygienic and social standards.

the estates were built at the end of the first world war (when demand for housing in berlin was higher than ever), by cooperatives and non-profit organizations in the (once) outer, rural areas of the city. they were innovative in their design but especially for the open-housing concept of “garden towns and cities” – in contrast with the 19th century corridor-like streets. the main architects involved were bruno taut, martin wagner, and walter gropius (one of the founders of the bauhaus school).

the pictures on this post are from the estate closest to our house, the Hufeisensiedlung. Hufeisen means “horseshoe” – which is what it resembles when you look at it from above!

wednesday night at the races

here they come!

Happy Valley Racecourse: It was first built in 1845 to provide horse racing for the British people in Hong Kong. Before it was built, the area was a swampland, but also the only flat ground suitable for horse racing on Hong Kong Island. To make way for the racecourse, Hong Kong Government prohibited rice growing by villages in the surrounding area. The first race ran in December 1846. Over the years, horse racing became more and more popular among the Chinese residents. (from wikipedia)

one of the highlights of hong kong was the happy valley horse races (how come lonely planet doesn’t mention them?!). tons of dressed up expats in the ground near the track, cheerfully socializing with beers in hand, discussing horses and jockey performances, while the stadium balconies were brimming with chinese people, carefully watching the screens and checking their notebooks and newspapers for guidance. despite the contrast in attitude, everyone seemed really into it – her majesty would be really proud!

for us newbies to the sport, it was great! the atmosphere was really enthusiastic, exploding into cheers during the race itself, and then relaxing again during the betting time, with lots of drinking and smaller events going on. we didn’t place any bets (the system is a bit tricky) but still had fun just immersing ourselves in this environment. in don’t miss it if you get the chance to go there!

what do all the filipino girls in hong kong do on their day off?

well, as we found out in our recent stay there, they camp under the hsbc building and on parks and empty streets in central for the purpose of socializing. they’re literally everywhere you can look at!

we had a bit of a hard time “understanding” why so many people were there (especially hsbc’s plaza?), but as we discovered, they stay there all day, doing each others nails, having picnics, chatting, dancing and singing, exercising, knitting, doing business, playing cards… it’s really quite something and a big surprise to see that the government actually cuts some roads for them to “occupy” on that day!

we didn’t get any good pictures of the phenomena, but here are a few from flickr (by furiousgeorge and ljubisa):

impressive, isn’t it?