The Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger produced the urban design concept. Born in 1932, Hertzberger had already designed the LiMa apartment complex on Berlin’s Lindenstraße and Markgrafenstraße, completed in the summer of 1986 as part of the International Architecture Exhibition (IBA).
Hertzberger is a member of the structuralist school of architecture. He accentuates the interplay between house and tenant: “how they each take possession of the other.” With his “Wohnpark Stralau” (Stralau residential park), constructed from 1995/96 to 1998, he designed a series of residential buildings that stood perpendicular to Lake Rummelsburg, as well as a large building in the shape of a quarter-circle. The unique shape of this ensemble is the architect’s answer to the old warehouse from 1885 that, after more than 100 years, also serves as living space today. The historical industrial building and the new apartment complex make for an interesting contrast. Between them lies a small square, the “Nixenkai” or Mermaid Quay. It was to serve as an outdoor market and neighborhood meeting place, but local residents did not receive the businesses as positively as expected. A neighborhood center founded in 1999 with the name “Am Nixenkai,” located at Am Speicher 8, was forced to close after only a few years due to a lack of funds.
The mermaid at the center of the square is the emblem of the residential community. Called “Nixenspiel” (mermaid’s game), this sculpture was designed and created by the sculptor Christine Gersch in 1997. She and Igor Jerschov make up an artist-duo that has worked on projects in Berlin’s public space for many years: for example, the “Wasserräder” (water wheels) at Lenbachplatz or the “Sternwächter” (star guardian) on the square on Boxhagener Straße, both in Friedrichshain.