64 C O N T E X T 1 5 7 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 8 Vox pop Achim Schröer In professional life, I am the urban conservation officer at the Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, the state conservation authority of the city-state of Berlin. I deal with local plans and how they affect the urban heritage of Berlin, rather than with works on individual buildings. I also volunteer for the Denkmalnetz Bayern (Heritage Net Bavaria) as one of three spokespersons, practically being its ‘foreign secretary’. The Denkmalnetz is a network of more than 160 local heritage initiatives in Bavaria which I co-founded in 2012 when I lived in Bavaria, modelled on UK institutions like the Heritage Alliance, Civic Voice and SAVE. Who has been your greatest inspiration? All the people I met in my life who voluntarily dedicated their time and energy to a good cause. What has been your best idea? To travel, study and work abroad, and to see at least some of this big world; to co-found the Denkmalnetz Bayern (it seems like the heritage landscape in Germany was waiting for something like this); more recently, to propose to my girlfriend (she said ‘ja’!) What would you like to have been if you had not become a conservationist? I have been a professional conservationist for only two years, but of all my posts as a planner in regional government, at the Bundestag and at the university, this is the best. Interesting people, interesting buildings and I really do achieve improvements for heritage. I’m too old for the astronaut thing now. How do you reply when at a party someone asks what you do? ‘Have you read the news on [a random large-scale project in Berlin]? I try to get the heritage protected.’ A bit showy, I know, but this is what I actually do and, hey, it’s a party. What is the biggest frustration in your job? Inconsiderate politicians. I guess this is the standard answer for most conservationists? What would you like to be doing in five years’ time? I am plotting some projects… What is your favourite building? Too many. In the UK, I like the simple late-Victorian or Edwardian terraced houses. Your favourite place? Actually, London: it’s beautiful and exciting and homey and shabby and glamorous and tacky and sophisticated, all at the same time. Berlin and Munich, in their way, are good too. And from time to time I have to escape to a lone mountain somewhere in the Alps. Your favourite book? Too many. But for urban planning I point to Überall ist Babylon , a pretty old (1960) but exciting book about the history of the city.When I read it, it confirmed that I had picked the right subject to study. What do you do in your spare time? Friends and family, biking and hiking, renaissance music, no telly. What organisations are you a member of? Denkmalnetz Bayern, DASL (German Academy of Urban Planners), Greenpeace. Which one issue would you particularly like the IHBC to campaign on? I can’t really give advice on the situation in the UK, even if I know a little bit about it. But international exchange on how heritage is managed is always helpful for all sides. Achim Schröer works on heritage in Berlin and Bavaria.Through his work and research experience in the UK, including with the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and the Heritage Alliance, he is familiar with the British independent heritage sector and champions it as a role model for more civic involvement in Germany.