Detroit’s Fisher Body 21: Auto Plant Turned Techno Club

By Own It Detroit

Façade of an old abandoned building

Amongst the multitude of abandoned and decrepit buildings scattered across Detroit, some are able to see the beauty behind the beasts. One frequent visitor has big plans for an old auto plant building, and you may be surprised about his vision.

Dimitri Hegemann is a Berlin native, but often visits Detroit to wander across the haunting beauty that the city has to offer. One of his favorite locations is the old Fisher Body 21 plant. Once utilized as an auto-part supplier facility, this area hasn’t been looked after for nearly 20 years.

However, Hegemann is not just any ordinary tourist. He holds high prestige in Berlin, as a founder of several nightclubs and a record label, specializing in techno music. In light of his recent visits to Detroit, Hegemann has started a new project, the Detroit-Berlin Connection. His hope is to unify the music makers in Detroit, with the nightclub savvy business ventures in Berlin, to help revitalize, not only the music scene, but also large abandoned spaces, such as the Fisher Body 21.

Hegemann and many Berlin natives agree that Detroit is facing similar issues that haunted Berlin after the wall came down. With economic struggle a slow moving battle, Hegemann believes it is the creative minds that helped rejuvenate Belin, and hopes he can do the same for Detroit.

Over this past summer, nearly a dozen Berliners flew to Detroit to meet with locals and entice them with big plans for the city. They compared their government systems, worn out cities, and overall morale, as a mechanism to show them how Berlin managed to rise from the ashes; all the while promoting the movement of techno music, a genre that Detroit help create.

In the late 1980’s Detroit was buzzing within the techno scene, creating some of the most prominent artists known to date. During this time, Berlin musicians managed to convince these techno artists to come over to Europe, and essentially started a musical revolution. In an effort to repay Detroit for their financial and cultural success, Berlin wants to give back, by repurposing old buildings, such as the Fisher Body 21. With millions flocking to the techno clubs owned by Hegemann, the people of Berlin believe that Detroit could benefit from a large, yet similar, cultural revolution.

As the Fisher Body 21 project starts underway, not all are convinced that this is the movement Detroit needs, but no one seems to be standing in Hegemann’s way. Hegemann is confident in his abilities to create new purpose for Fisher Body 21, and the rest of Detroit.

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