“Alte Feuerwehr Viktoria” is part bar slash restaurant, part community center, part idea factory. I often come here just to have a well-prepared drink, a local beer or a decent meal at Löscher. The restaurant is located in a former garage for firefighters. When they moved away from the city centre a couple of years ago, the building was turned into a diverse spot with all sorts of pop-ups and start-ups.
But before the boxing school, the bicycle shop and the restaurant moved in, before Radio Blind Power built a studio on-site, before Adriano’s started roasting its coffee in the micro roasting establishment before artistes moved into the hose-drying-tower and a library of things was inaugurated – before all that, the place was a cramped refugee camp.
In the midst of the “refugee crisis” in 2015 the top floor was inhabited by Syrians and Afghans, Sri Lankis and Eritreans. But other than in some rural communities where refugees have been “welcomed” with fear and anger, at Alte Feuerwehr Viktoria they were soon part of an urban testing field for new ideas of cooperation and cultural exchange.
The refugees are not there anymore since the migration problem has been successfully shifted (not solved) elsewhere by European politics. What has remained is an open-minded, local laboratory for all kinds of arts, handcrafts and new forms of sustainability. Still, if you want to have a taste of the multi-cultural past: go visit the delicious Gastwerk just next door.