There is an underground public bathroom in Düsseldorf’s city center that went unused, unloved, and for ten years, nearly unnoticed. It took a scrappy band of local artists to see its potential, taking on the abandoned space to create a community art and performance venue called “Reinraum.”
The entrance is tucked away between neighborhood shops, hotels and burger joints, down a nondescript flight of stairs. Framed by bright green walls, the concrete steps lead to 645 square feet of subterranean galleries lined in subway tile and old urinals.
Since 2002, Reinraum has used the unexpected space to further the cause of providing art for the public sphere. Acting as a collective, the 45 members provide their time and effort to support Düsseldorf’s diverse cultural landscape, organizing distinctive and disparate art exhibits, live music and themed events year-round.
Ironically, the name Reinraum means “clean room,” as you’d expect to see at a microelectronic plant or medical lab. According to the group, it’s meant to suggest the purest possible conditions for artists to create. Sometimes the clean room just happens to be an old underground bathroom.