Berlin is a city of reinvention at every level—individuals come here to reinvent themselves and the city itself is always reinventing itself. With a constant influx of people coming to Berlin every year to discover its rich history, plentiful parties or simply political safety, the future of the city could go in many directions. Will housing become even more competitive? Will the city find ways to become more environmentally friendly? Will the coronavirus force the city to stagnate or will creativity continue to flourish? Right now, Berlin seems to be on the brink of another phase of reinvention.
100 Years Berlin – Unfinished Metropolis, a free exhibition at the Kronprinzenpalais that is still open until February 2021 but currently closed due to the lockdown in November, seeks to answer some of these questions by examining the last century. Unfinished Metropolis celebrates the centennial of the conglomeration of Berlin and asks the visitor to examine the past to look forward. The exhibition reviews urban planning successes and failures of the last 100 years in Berlin and also features winning entries from the International Urban Design Ideas Competition for Berlin-Brandenburg 2070. These entries provide an idea of what the city may look like in 50 years. Here’s what those winning entries propose.
Berlin and Brandenburg Growing Together
The first-place proposal plans for areas of Berlin and Brandenburg to grow within their borders. Keeping sustainability in mind, the cities would then be connected not through motorways, but public transportation networks to increase mobility between these internally expanding areas. In addition to growing from within, the proposal suggests that the city expands around new railway lines. The two example areas the proposal puts forward are between Südkreuz and Tempelhofer Feld (in Berlin) and Bernau (in Brandenburg). In the future, we can expect to see these two areas develop and become hot new real estate by 2070.
Bernd Albers Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, Vogt Landschaft GmbH, Arup Deutschland GmbH
Old Space, New Use
Berlin already has a tendency to reuse old buildings: factories transform into clubs, Tempelhof is now a park, even Badeschiff was once a massive shipping container. This trend will likely continue in the coming years, the winning proposal also plans to for “densification and special optimization”—this means reviving the spaces already available to us. In line with the previous plan, the proposal calls for the development of vacant lots and brownfield sites within the city instead of outwards expansion. We can expect to see fewer demolitions and more renovations in the coming years. Do you know that one empty spot you walk by to get to the train every morning? It won’t be empty by 2070.
Jordi & Keller Architekten / Pellnitz Architektur und Städtebau (Berlin), Christina Kautz Landschaftsarchitektur, Ludwig Krause Stadtplaner
Brandenburg will be Cool
Dorfkinder rejoice! Many of the winning proposals include plans to develop Brandenburg in order to connect it with Berlin. This doesn’t only include building new housing complexes and maybe a few beer gardens but also ecologically developing land to produce a productive environment to increase sustainability and economic value. The project proposes a “transition zone” between urban and rural areas of sustainably developed land. This means in 2070 we’ll be heading out to Brandenburg for day trips or nights out and passing through green zones on the way.
Kopperroth / SMAQ / Alex Wall (Berlin und Cambridge, USA), Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Tischer, freischaffender Landschaftsarchitekt, Office MMK – Urban Technologies
Although it is impossible to predict the future in social, cultural, or economic terms, science can tell us very clearly that our planet is warming. In the coming years, both Berlin and Brandenburg will get hotter because of global climate change. The fourth-place proposal plans to expand Berlin and Brandenburg’s waterways, canals, and lakes to keep the area cool and preserve the high quality of life. One of these specific propositions is to create a new neighborhood between the Spree and Landwehr canal (the area encompassing Heinrich-Heine Straße and Kotti) and even connect the two waterways. This area would be completely free of cars and full of parks and canals—sounds like prime real estate to me.
Thomas Stellmach Planning and Architecture / fabulism GbR (Berlin), Lysann Schmidt Landschaftsarchitektur, Melissa Gómez (Beraterin für nachhaltige Mobilität und urbane Innovation), Marcus Andreas (Berater für Nachhaltigkeit), Florian Strange (Berater für Urbanismus & Design Prozesse)
Even More City Centers
Berlin is already known for its plethora of “downtowns,” (Is it Alexanderplatz? Kudamm? Mitte?) but the fifth-place proposal plans for even more city centers. The “Urban Islands” project suggests that we build cities within cities—in order to relieve competition and tension between city centers and the surrounding areas. Each neighborhood would have its own little city center constituting an “urban archipelago.”
Pedro Pitarch (Madrid)
Although it’s impossible to envision where we’ll be in 50 years, both on an individual and societal level, the International Urban Design Ideas Competition gives us a pretty good idea of where our city is going. We can expect to see innovative businesses appearing in old buildings, more parks, green spaces, and waterways, and maybe even, we’ll all want to move to Brandenburg. By 2070, Berlin will have reinvented itself again—a whole new city awaits us.