Construction — both new buildings and renovations — seems to be thriving in Berlin. A local example is the large apartment complex being built at the end of our block. The image shown on the billboard out front is not in keeping with the spirit of the neighborhood, but it reflects real estate values that have been rising steadily over the past few years.
I walk or bike by the job site several times a day. While I enjoy checking on the progress, I have also felt some version of “work envy.” There is probably a word for this in German. It would capture the feeling that I should be working on a project like that — a mixture of desire and obligation. While passing the job site, I have even gone so far as to try to identify the person in charge — the site superintendent or project manager — to whom I would walk up and say, Here I am, ready to work, let’s go. This fantasy quickly fades as I remember that I don’t yet have an official work permit. More importantly, in thinking about our year in Berlin, I have determined that there are likely better ways for me to make use of the time than as a Handwerker at the local Baustelle.
The following photos focus on the exterior skin of insulation that is being installed on the cast concrete walls of the building. Rigid insulation in the form of mineral wool or polystyrene foam is finished with stucco. In the U.S. we would call this EIFS (“Exterior Insulation and Finishing System”). Here in Germany, this seems to be the most common method for insulating new buildings and retrofitting existing ones.