Andreas Krüger and Ryotaro Bordini Chikushi are the co-founders of NION. This is Ryotaro’s personal story about the project.
Berlin, like no other city in the world, stands for this philosophy, that life is to be found in the action not in the confrontation with a finished state or product. I even picked up a proverb, that people whisper to each other, when for the first time, they grasp that vibe that underscores everything in this restless place: Berlin will never be completed, it will always be in a state of becoming.
The city must have radiated something like this, when I decided to live here in 2009. It was at the dawn of the start-up-scene and I readily dived into it. While I was busy creating a business for the electronic music scene, I looked closer at how things moved in this open-minded habitat and learned by doing. I realized that freedom of action in Berlin was greatly supported by its infrastructure, which put responsibility and freedom on a balance. For it was around this time, that the state’s financial ministry realized that the city’s club scene attracted just as many visitors as its world-renowned philharmony, and made a wise decision: to support it adequately by applying the same low tax status. The ministry didn’t make a difference between electronic music culture and high-classical music culture: People traveled to Berlin from far away just to experience the diverse music scenes.
Organically grown urban projects
Simultaneously I witnessed how places like the Markthalle Neun and the Holzmarkt were being developed. These urban projects were not planned and constructed on a grid, but grew organically with and through the people involved. They have become ecosystems within the city and meanwhile have been copied all over the world, As a result, city life in many places has become richer, more authentic and very humane.
Through my involvement in these projects, the German Embassy and the Senate of Berlin approached me to organize an exhibition/fair with workshops to promote its creative industries in Tokyo. Would it be possible to export the vibe? Where did the vibe derive from? We staged the event at the 52nd floor of Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. It was a phenomenal success. Still today creatives from both places exchange their music, design, and art as well as collaborate on various projects. It was like a booster detonation, I love to think of it. And it was so much fun.
From these experiences, I am convinced that creativity will grow exuberantly from the exchange of ideas between people of different backgrounds and disciplines. Meanwhile, the municipal utility companies of Berlin, the backbone of life in the city, consisting of garbage collectors, water suppliers, energy providers, public transportation & mobility and infrastructure supporters put me in charge of stimulating their conversations.
Allowing ideas to develop
Together we founded the company greenbox. We setup “InfraLab”, something that had never been done before: a round-table, where all the above-mentioned utility companies meet regularly. Here we address complex questions and discuss implementable solutions – we listen, practice inclusion, and allow ideas to grow.
Topics that we currently work on are e-mobility solutions and building a sensoric network that runs through the city. We break big ideas down into manageable units and see how the utility partners can put their knowledge into practice. The lab actually works. We are in dialog with China, India and Japan to setup new greenboxes there.
To me, it is the compendium of all my experiences put together: a chance to create a vibrant new space within the city, reaching out of the city and enriching lifestyles globally. Possibly my DNA drives me: as a half Japanese / half Italian from Germany, I see my background as a chance to build bridges that connect the best of all worlds.
I see NION as a smart space with its own culture and technology that will shine beyond its geographical limits. As I love to apply a playfulness even when approaching serious matters, I want it to become a place to experiment, and implement, where small details and big questions are looked at with the same importance. And most importantly, I want NION to grow organically: please share your ideas, so we can create a space where many cultures enhance each other. Yours, Mine, Theirs, Ours. Let’s build bridges!