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Photography by Manfred Wegener

A taste of my neighbourhood...

|   People

…Kalk — Martina Höfflin is one of the curators who run the Strizzi exhibition space

I’m one of seven curators who run the Strizzi exhibition space in Kalk, a platform for young contemporary artists. It all began 16 years ago with our programming and design agency, Büro für Brauchbarkeit. My partner Tilman Reiff and I studied informatics, but we’ve taken a real interest in design and media art since our time at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. When we started out in Kalk, we wanted to play our part in shaping the neighbourhood. So much seemed possible back then — there were so many brownfield sites in the former blue-collar suburb. But many opportunities have since been wasted and those sites are now built up and privatised. That’s what happens when urban development takes a narrow-minded approach rather than seeing the bigger picture. There still aren’t enough green spaces.
Some parts of Kalk look quite run down and many families move away when their children start school. But we stayed put, even when our children came along. Kalk’s cultural diversity is also reflected on a culinary level. Nobiko (Josephskirchstr. 25) is a great Japanese noodle place and 100% vegan. Mickis (Trimbornstr. 4) near the Kalk Post underground station is an authentic Italian coffee bar and trattoria where I sometimes have pasta for lunch: simple, satisfying and a real insider tip! For a down-to-earth breakfast, I head to Bambule (Wiersbergstr. 32), a café that is also a kiosk. A wonderful place to sit and enjoy the morning sun! Just opposite that is Trash Chic (Wiersbergstr. 31), a great local pub with punk rock music, table football and friendly regulars, including lots of families. The Sünner brewery has a large beer garden (Hauptstr. 260) and a fantastic cellar vault where authentic local food is served. There are also lots of Turkish kebab places and fast-food restaurants, all of a similar standard. For creative, handmade food that’s low on frills, but high on taste, the best restaurant in the area is Blauer König (Markt 24), the kind of place you can take your parents to. I sometimes go there with our clients and the international artists whose work is being shown in our exhibition space.