2070: Berlin and Brandenburg Have Been Climate Neutral for Twenty Years
Second Phase, Short- and Longlisted Entries
Christoph Kohl Stadtplaner Architekten GmbH
Team: Cailin Nikel-Zueger, You Shing Soh, Michael Diestelkamp, Capucine Serennes, Daniela Horn,
Landscape planning: Fugmann Janotta und Partner mbB
Sub-area 1 – ‘Urban Density and an Expanded Underground Network’: Landsberger Allee
Sub-area 2 – ‘on the outskirts of Berlin, Green Wedge’: Lichtenrade / Rangsdorf
Sub-area 3 – ‘Away from the outer Suburbs’:
A city administration should be as extensive as the entire functionally connected urban space. The formation of Greater Berlin in 1920 was for this reason an important and essential step. The costs of CO2 emissions are passed on to future generations, so energy prices today are low and driving a car disproportionately cheap. Too few homes are being built in Berlin, so real-estate prices per square metre are much higher than in the Brandenburg countryside. Large sums of money are being spent on infrastructure for cars; this stimulates further suburbanisation. The combination of non-sustainable-energy pricing and construction of housing and infrastructure in the wrong places is making Berlin and Brandenburg increasingly interconnected. A sustainable world has compact, liveable cities and plenty of room for nature. Such cities are not compatible with unrestricted automobility. Abundant room for nature is not compatible with urban sprawl or with countryside permeated with infrastructure. Berlin’s sprawl into Brandenburg is undesirable; it must be resisted. A CO2 tax should make today’s car-users pay for future costs that they cause. Suitable homes need to be built in Berlin in quantities sufficient to ensure that the price per square metre falls to the level of prices in the outlying suburbs. Investment in mobility should, at all costs, benefit cyclists and public transport.Weiterlesen
In 1920 Greater Berlin had a population of 3.8 million. Designed for growth, the city encompassed forests, meadows, and space for urban expansion. Today Berlin has 3.6 million inhabitants. This means that there should be sufficient capacity within the boundaries established in 1920 to last far into the future, even with a high rate of growth. Since such a large belt of outlying suburbs should not exist, there is also no need to further extend the Berlin urban area. In a democracy, proximity to citizens counts. The city’s history, the different population densities, economic structure, and history of migration are factors which give Berlin and Brandenburg different electorates; this is further reflected in the balance of parties in the two regions. For both Berlin and Brandenburg, the merging of the two states means a substantial loss of autonomy. The undesirable belt of outlying suburbs, which, moreover, includes only a small part of Brandenburg, is therefore not a reason for Berlin and Brandenburg to be extensively interconnected. Good cooperation between the two states is sufficient.
Berlin must no longer rely on Brandenburg solving its housing deficit. It is insane that as many homes are being built in the cheap outlying suburbs as in Berlin, even if the prices show that demand is much higher in Berlin. Also, it is wrong that space-consuming commercial facilities are so cheap in Brandenburg; there should be an efficient offering of commercial spaces in the city. Berlin needs to take a sustainable approach to spaces and development, so that more space is available for recreation in a green setting. Brandenburg should focus mainly on strengthening its own towns and cities and on developing agriculture; it should not set out to skim off Berlin’s growth through bargains in the ‘outlying suburbs. No one should deceive themselves that Brandenburg has been chosen by a global player. So, in as far as urban development and mobility development are concerned, both Berlin and Brandenburg lag behind current trends.
In spite of the mobility and climate laws and abundance of fine words, things are basically continuing as in the final years of the twentieth century: transport is synonymous with cars. Expansion of public transport is advancing very hesitantly; tramlines that have been planned for decades are not being built; new U-Bahn lines are a utopia. Berlin is acquiring hundreds of thousands of new inhabitants and we need an alternative to the car, but people are thinking small. In a city that is not dependent on the car, real alternatives are needed: an extensive metropolitan network in Berlin and a high-frequency rail network linking the towns and cities of Brandenburg. Berlin is too big to be accessible by tram and bike alone. The goal must be for everyone to be able to reach a metro station on foot. This requires extensive investment – which can be made more doable if the metro is built mainly as an elevated railway. Comprehensive development of Brandenburg using public transport is not possible. Development of rural areas will continue to involve cars in the future. Despite the introduction of self-driving electric cars, this will require extensive resources and expenditure. Brandenburg must make its towns and cities fit for the future by concentrating them around railway stations. This means dismantling residential districts that are not fit for the future. Railway links and timetable intervals must be vastly improved.
Infrastructure and urban planning are interconnected. Today, however, houses are continuing to be built in places where there is no adequate alternative to the car. There is no consistent pro-active planning indicating where the urgently needed hundreds of thousands of new homes can be built. Such plans that do exist are lists of ad hoc projects. Many of these projects, on the outskirts of cities and towns, are entirely dependent on cars. We need a plan based on the premise that you can only build in locations where a car-free life is viable. In the case of industrial areas, accessibility that does not require a car is extremely limited. This is not just due to the frequent lack of public transport, but also to inefficient treatment of space, which leads to great distances having to be traversed. In the car-free city of 1920 most industry was integrated in the city and efficiently stacked in factory yards and workshops. Given the improvement in hygiene, climate, and noise standards, this type of commercial space should be integrated into the city as a model to be followed. It is standard for public space – including in the inner city – to be configured as parking lots for stationary cars. The construction of cycle paths is not governed by regulations, is carried out on an ad hoc basis, and is clearly subordinated to the car. Pedestrians are left with the verges. So each street tells us for whom the city has been built and which mode of movement has priority: driving. In the future self-driving cars will park autonomously outside residential areas. Until then, however, street planning should signal, even in its finest details, that public space belongs to everyone and not primarily to cars.
It is not just Covid-19 and climate change that prove that a fundamental paradigm shift in land policy in the metropolitan area – beyond the densification of the city described above – is necessary. A strategic land policy must be introduced which prioritises resource-saving and strictly sustainability-oriented provision of agricultural products, provides inhabitants with sufficient attractive spaces for recreation near their homes or for short breaks, offers sufficient interconnected habitats for native flora and fauna, and finally provides for long-term adaptation of countryside and built-up areas in preparation for climate change. Cities, towns, and countryside should emerge stronger from this: especially in view of development of built-up areas and the associated urban sprawl into valuable countryside and production space, competition for land should be prevented through reflection on the respective strong points. The focus is on goal-oriented allocation of spaces and administrative access to land – naturally with the participation of the inhabitants and current owners of the sites. The municipal Greater-Berlin Joint Authority and, as its legal successor, the City of Berlin, set a fine example of financial commitment from 1915 onwards, not least due to pressure from the public, by purchasing woodlands for citizens’ recreation and undertaking to maintain them in perpetuity through the Permanent Forest Agreement of 27 March 1915, which is still in force today.
Our focus is on developing land near the city. To make up for the loss of allotments, which are now once again in high demand, allotment parks should be set aside along the city borders to provide everyone with attractive recreational space. High biodiversity is anyway, however, offered in the new city blocks inside the existing city with their green courtyards, façades, and roofs. Small ‘metropolitan gardens’ will ensure ecological cultivation of basic foodstuffs and vegetables and pasture grazing, thereby directly supplying the urban population. At transport nodes there are to be large nurseries in greenhouses for exotic plants and intensive livestock farming; their energy-intensive operation will use wind and solar power. Wedges of ecologically valuable landscape stretch from the various virginal forests deep into the cities and towns; today’s forest monocultures, which anyway have very little future due to climate change, are to be transformed into diversely structured production forests and will also be available for leisure. In rural areas far from settlements, large agricultural sites and energy-generation plants will be concentrated between land given over to nature. Current efforts by the states of Berlin and Brandenburg must be redoubled. A new land policy must ensure long-term provision for regional production of agricultural products and for recreation in the metropolis and in the environs of cities and towns in Brandenburg. Just as Flächenagentur Brandenburg (‘Brandenburg Land Agency’) handles land with protection status and reserves of land for compensatory and replacement measures, so we need an agency to negotiate with owners of land and make targeted land purchases to meet the region’s needs. In addition, the administrative and financial framework of conditions for regional parks around Berlin must be reinforced.