Elon Musk’s Graffiti Gigafactory

by The Cowl Editor on September 30, 2021


Elon Musk’s Graffiti Gigafactory

Art and Technology Meet at the New Tesla Facility

Claudia Fennell ’24

Driven by the efforts of CEO Elon Musk, Tesla Motors is leading the way into the future of the automobile industry with cars that do not run on fossil fuels. As the rate of climate change accelerates, consumers are pushing for more sustainable vehicle options. Tesla delivers on this want, and the company is currently working to lower its prices so that sustainable vehicles become more accessible to all. 

Musk built his first mega-building for the production of car parts and named it the Tesla Gigafactory. It covers millions of square feet of space and runs completely on renewable energy, relying primarily on solar energy. The CEO is now planning to build another one of these Gigafactories in Germany, to be named the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory. Musk’s plans have caused uproar in the German community because of the art that he aims to put on the outside of the building: he is planning to have street artists paint the building’s exterior, graffiti-style. 

Musk is recruiting local German street artists for this task. On Twitter, the official Tesla account announced, “If you want to help cover Giga Berlin in awesome graffiti art, send us your work at GigaBerlinArt@Tesla.com.” 

The internet had a field day with this announcement, with many Twitter users replying to Tesla’s Tweet with pictures featuring Musk or Tesla vehicles with the Doge meme. The meme, which originated in the early 2010s, features a Shiba Inu dog accompanied by multicolored broken-English phrases intended to represent an internal monologue. When a pair of software engineers decided to make a satirical cryptocurrency, they christened it “Dogecoin,” and, to their surprise, earned the support of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who frequently tweets about Dogecoin.

All memes aside, Berlin is considered to be the graffiti capital of the world, so it would make sense that Musk is deciding to decorate his building with this art style and use the talents of local artists. German graffiti became popular after the construction of the Berlin Wall. On the Western side of the Wall, artists decorated it with graffiti and words in English, French, and German. Perhaps Tesla is hoping to incorporate some German history into their new building to assimilate into the German community. 

Some critics charge that the Gigafactory, especially with its graffiti-style art, is not suitable for the German landscape in which it is being constructed, and other complaints come from environmental activists.

When speaking to The Washington Post, Steffen Schorcht, an activist fighting the Gigafactory, explained that the main complaints critics wish for Tesla to address are that the company has not done enough to protect Berlin’s wildlife and that the construction area included timber trees planted in a designated conservation area. Schorcht is quoted as saying, “Our critique is not against Tesla cars or the Tesla company, our critique is for them to use this area to build a factory.” 

Regardless of whether people are opposing the Gigafactory for aesthetic or environmental reasons, the new $7-billion plant is under construction outside of Berlin now and is expected to be in production by the end of the year. Hopefully, when architectural critics and environmentalists alike see the building’s artwork, even if they disagree with the Gigafactory’s location, they will be able to appreciate the art created for it.