A new pop-up city that celebrates subcultures, graffiti, grungy design and the bohemian life is breathing some much-needed cool into Munich’s day and night life.
Being cool is not exactly Munich’s jam. Being safe? Definitely. Clean? Yes. Home to a comprehensive recycling system? Yup. Custodian of a reasonably punctual public transport system and a network of well-organised bike paths? Absolutely. Out-of-the-box and creative? Not so much.
But that may all be about to change. The Container Collective – a pop-up neighbourhood of repurposed shipping containers that house cafes, bars, artist studios, shops and a hipster underground radio station – is injecting a bit of much-needed cool and grit into the city.
A funky fusion
Located just behind Ostbahnhof, where the old Kultfabrik used to be, The Container Collective is part of the new Werksviertel complex. The 27 shipping containers which make it up, host an eclectic collection of artists and vendors, from photographers to pop-up art galleries and from vintage bike shops to bars, cafes and dance schools.
During the day, tables, chairs, wooden stairs, colourful crates and sun lounges offer seating for anyone who wants to drink in the weather over a latte or lemonade at the Kaserne De Janeiro. Later, a container bar, complete with a terrace, stirred cocktail menu and happening beats, courtesy of Radio 80000, infuses the place with a different vibe.
In the name of research and — yeah okay — beverages, I took two trips to check out The Container Collective: one by day and one by night.
Daytime, with kids
The first of my visits was on a weekday morning with two friends and – wait for it – six kids under three. Three toddlers, three crawlers and three double prams. Admittedly, rising up to the challenge is a hard thing to ask from most places in Munich. The Container Collective and the Kaserne De Janeiro held up in many areas… but faltered in others.
Online, it lists itself as kid-friendly. To some degree this is definitely true: the outdoor area is large, so older kids have plenty of space to run and play. When we came, there were wild strawberries growing in the planter boxes, which the staff allowed our toddlers to sample. There was also a sandpit with toys, but a sign warned parents not to let kids take their shoes off on account of glass. I picked up two shards near the sandbox, where our two-year-olds were playing. Nothing exists for younger babies and the area is not safe for those who are crawling. The café does not have high chairs or a changing area. The service, however, is delightful and the staff very accommodating. During our visit, they found a way for us to change our kids on a recessed part of the structure, however it wasn’t ideal.
A bonus for parents of young kids who do brave it, is that the baby store, Rasselfisch, is in the building within the Werksviertel complex and has tons of adorable baby and kid gear.
Nighttime, sans kids
That isn’t entirely true. My husband and I hadn’t arranged for a babysitter so we took our two-year-old and 11-month-old to the container Bar of Bel Air. That is commitment, ladies.
We went in the early evening on a wet and chilly day and yet there were several people drinking, chatting and taking shelter from the bad weather. The atmosphere was relaxed and unaffected and the impression the patrons made, was that they had come as much for the vibe as for the company or libations.
Aside from a range of stirred cocktails, beer and other assorted drinks, the bar also offers a basic menu of innovative salads. We tried the KrissKross which features a fun mix of chorizo, beef meatballs, tortilla chips, cucumber relish, mixed leaf salad, parmesan, fresh mint, avocado, baby corn and watermelon. It was impeccably executed and very tasty. We washed it down with the bar’s own version of a Bloody Mary and made a mental plan to find a babysitter for the next time we came. Before leaving, we strolled to another part of the collective, to watch couples dancing the swing. It’s just that kind of place.
How to get there
You’ll find The Container Collective on Atelierstrasse 10, within a three-minute walk of Ostbahnhof. If you’re catching public transport, any Sbahn will get you there in a jiffy, as will the U5 and a good number of buses.
For enquiries, check out their Facebook page.
When to go
The Kaserne De Janeiro cafe is open 8:00 – 20:00 Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays.
The Bar of Bel Air is open from midday to late (10pm on Sundays, 1am Monday-Thursday and 3am on Fridays and Saturdays).
On weekday mornings you can stroll in and take your pick of any seat you want. However, since it is a new opening and rather cool to boot, you might have a bit more of a fight on your hands in the evenings.
Great to know
- The Container Collective is a melting pot that offers cafes, bars, dance schools, cocktail schools and more
- There is a sandpit for older children who can be trusted to leave their shoes on
- Ostbahnhof is easily reachable by Sbahn, the U5 as well as several buses
- The cafe has a menu that features paninis, freshly-baked goods, tea and coffee
- The bar offers creative salads and drinks
- Service is impeccable
Agnes Stockburger is a writer, editor and published author. In her glory days she wrote for the likes of Australian Broker, SheKnows and Yahoo!7. These days you’re more likely to find her sticking Duplo blocks in the fridge and the milk in the mailbox because OMG her kids will NOT sleep. She has lived in Munich for six years, has two dirndls and gave birth in German. Twice. This obviously qualifies her to write about the local culture with impunity.
Photo credit: Yolanda Ng is a cross creative who is a professional fashion designer, stylist, street style blogger for VON ZWEI and a photographer at Corner Store Photography. She is also the Creative and Marketing Director for LMBB.