Can I live in a community

Trendy gated communities - Living in a closed society

Renate Belle opens the small gate in the fence that separates Arcadia from the banks of the Havel. She asks her guests through, locks again. A quick look at the cameras on the lantern. The security guard at the front of the main entrance to the residential area saw apartment owner Belle, 74 years old, who has lived in Arcadia for eleven years, starting a walk along the riverside path. The March sun is doing its best, the water is glistening, and a first rowing quad has started training.

Over there the fresh green of the Babelsberg Park, around the corner the Glienicke Bridge. Arcadia on the border between Potsdam and Berlin is heavenly. That was the most important thing for Renate Belle when she was looking for a place to stay for retirement. She found this place on the small Glienicker Horn peninsula, where the West Berlin construction company Groth & Graalfs built "Germany's first gated community" around the stately Villa Kampffmeyer at the end of the 1990s.

The facility was controversial from the start and was largely empty in the first few years. The client went bankrupt. It took a good eight years and a few price reductions before all the apartments in every “Mediterranean-style urban villa” were sold. The concept of living behind high fences, popular in violent metropolises like Miami and Moscow, Cape Town or Rio, had failed in Germany, it was said at the time. In tranquil Potsdam, nobody needs a fence and porter to live safely.

First written off, now a future model

But times have changed. In Germany there is a growing fear of the large number of immigrants, of burglars - but above all of loss of status. Arcadia, once written off, is suddenly seen again as the future model.

Jürgen Linde has lived in the estate for 16 years. He was the third New Brandenburg citizen to move to Arcadia. In 1989 the lawyer came to Brandenburg as one of the first West German construction workers, he became head of the state chancellery and minister in the SPD-led state government under Manfred Stolpe. After his retirement, the now 81-year-old wanted to stay in Potsdam and went shopping on Glienicker Horn.

For Linde and his wife, as for most residents, Arcadia is the seat of old age. How important was the fence to you? "In any case, that didn't deter us," says the pensioner diplomatically. "You don't know how the times will develop."