Redesigning the urban agenda
Second Phase, Short- and Longlisted Entries
Hoidn Wang Partner
Team: Matías Grimaldi della Bianca, Kevin Ho Jun Choi,
José Rodríguez López
Landscape planning: Tilman Latz, Latz + Partner, Landschaftsarchitektur
Other specialist planning: Paul Rogers, Abdelrahman Helal, Aron Bohmann, Buro Happold, Berlin; John Peponis, Georgia Institute of Technology; Chen Feng, The University of Texas at Austin; Meta Berghauser-Pont, Jan Sahlberg, Chalmers University Gothenburg; Richard Burdett, London School of Economics
Sub-area 1 – ‘Inner-city’ Case Study: Westkreuz
Sub-area 2 – ‘Outskirts’ Case Study: Köpenicker Prospekt Radial
Sub-area 3 – ‘hinterland Area’ Campus: City of Ludwigsfelde
Berlin-Brandenburg 2070: Principles and Concepts for Regional Planning and Urban Development – Redesigning the Urban Agenda
All forms of radical thinking that shape society require radical forms of decision-making and governmental responsibility. The future of cities has never been more at the forefront of global political debate than it is today, when the impact of urban areas on environmental justice and social cohesion is becoming increasingly tangible. The historic opportunity to rethink the concept of the city and to steer the business-as-usual model in a direction that promotes growth, well-being, and sustainability is recognised by visionary politicians worldwide. Yet, few metropolises have committed to long-term change that reshapes the way people will live and interact with their natural habitats for generations to come.
The Berlin-Brandenburg 2070 initiative offers the city, region, and state the opportunity to do this. The design principles outlined in this proposal represent a paradigm shift for a metropolitan region characterised by a distinct and highly revered DNA. However, the entire region suffers from unsustainable forms of development and lifestyles that require radical rethinking and redesigning.
To implement these radical ideas, new coalitions and collaborations are required. Different levels of national, state, and local governments must engage in a vision that breaks with established standards, boundaries, and jurisdictions. At the local level, residents must ensure that compromises are worthwhile before supporting the scale of the efforts and restructuring proposed by this ambitious yet feasible plan. The private sector must participate in the common civic agenda to ensure the long-term added value of its assets and investments.
New governance structures and partnerships are needed to execute the physical and design proposals that optimise the city’s existing DNA. Positive models for this already exist; for example, in London, where the Mayoral Development Corporation is helping to shape the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games over the next 40 years in an effort to correct the enduring inequalities in the city. Across the Channel, the Reinventer Paris initiative has laid down an advanced environmental and social agenda that enables the city’s mayor to carry out projects on public land that prioritise urban quality over profit. This competition proposal combines ecological principles with creative urban-development concepts. The ecological principles and design concepts presented here will allow Berlin and Brandenburg to remain recognisable in their original qualities and characteristics and also to develop and strengthen these while taking into account climate change.
Four ecological principles define this proposal. Berlin and Brandenburg can better prepare for climate change by implementing the following ecological guidelines.
- Reducing CO2 emissions and supporting a resource-friendly, regional circular economy
- Limiting new construction sites to pre-exiting sealed areas or plots, minimising the amount of sealed land, and creating green spaces with numerous potential uses
- Increasing population density from the current 4,000 to 5,000 inhabitants per square kilometre, improving road links between the towns outside Berlin, and improving transport systems within Brandenburg
- Creating user-friendly transport opportunities in the region and towns by prioritising bicycle use, public transport systems, and environmentally friendly passenger vehicles
These guidelines result in five main design concepts, which define the implementation measures of this regional planning and urban development plan.
- Promote a circular economy and CO2 reduction
The countryside and cities are integrated into energy, food, water, and recycling cycles. The raw materials for new buildings grow in Brandenburg’s forests. In an area stretching from the south of Bernau to the northwest of Berlin, a new forest is emerging; it will help reduce CO2 levels. This effort is boosted in the city centre by the creation of large parks with a high proportion of trees and biologically active rainwater-harvesting systems.
- Control the amount of sealed land and green areas
All new construction occurs on pre-existing sealed sites, and the number of new sealings is to be severely limited in future. If possible, existing green spaces, including allotment gardens and cemeteries, are to be combined into larger, open public spaces to help reduce the heat build-up in the city centre and to promote the formation of local fresh-air corridors. Allotment gardens are to be converted into urban agricultural areas with combined work and residential use at their edges.
- Lakes, rivers, and canals function as urban-planning elements
By exercising the public right of first refusal, private properties along lakes and rivers are acquired to ensure public access to the water and waterways and, if feasible, to carry out the appropriate restoration of these. This supports the increased absorption of torrential rain and improves the quality of life; canals should be redesigned or created so that they can also be used by vaporetti.
- Promote densification and higher density
The principles of barrier-free access, a social and functional mix, and fairness will all dictate the design of both individual buildings and entire neighbourhoods, establishing strong local communities and reducing commuting. Different lifestyles will find their own spaces through the connection and overlay of living, working, and recreational activities in the immediate vicinity. In the region, new living and working space should primarily be integrated in densely populated city neighbourhoods and settlements. All housing estates are to be examined with regard to their potential for densification. This competition entry assumes that this area can accommodate an additional one million residents.
- Expand ring roads and radials
The car-friendly city of the twentieth century is to be transformed into a human-friendly city of the twenty-first century. For this purpose, the typical Berlin ‘growth rings’ are further developed and updated on a larger scale: several new growth rings from the city centre via the outskirts to the surrounding communities strengthen individual identities, and distinctive radials with urban qualities promote higher structural density in the outlying areas.
Three new ring systems expand the inner city and structure the outskirts and country.
The first is Berlin’s ring road, which is transformed into the ‘Ring Boulevard’. The A100 becomes a high-density inner-city ring road with mixed-use buildings and public facilities. New high-rises serve as landmarks and provide orientation in the city. The new, ground-level, 39-kilometre-long Ring Boulevard and the main radial roads with their densely built up surroundings unite the city centre with the outskirts. The ring boulevard is between 60 and 80 metres wide, planted with four rows of trees, and furnished with kiosks, bars, and cafés. It is conceived as an urban lounge that accommodates both commercial and non-commercial activities. The ring not only symbolically prevails over the east-west divide, but also over the traditional distinction between the inner city and suburbia. It invites all residents in the region to rediscover the city at street-level and to see it as an attractive public space. Along the inner ring road and the radials, tall buildings can promote densification measures and accommodate a total of one million people.
The second ring is characterised by water and bicycle paths. In the south, the Teltow Canal between Köpenick and Potsdam is to be redeveloped as a 42-kilometre-long network of paths and a densification area; as a tangent, it is connected to the regional cycle-path network. In the north, a new canal forms the counterpart to the Teltow Canal, completing the second ring.
The third ring is the A10 motorway, which is commonly regarded as the outer edge of Berlin. Within this area, the development of Berlin is to take place according to inner-city criteria (floor-space index of at least 1.5); this would require contractual agreements for the designation of buildable land and the exchange of land between Berlin and Brandenburg.
The fourth ring is Berlin’s Ringbahn circular railway (inner ring). The significance of Berlin’s ring road for the city is equal to that of this circular railway for the region. Its four-track expansion is intended to accommodate the circulation of closely timed local and regional trains. This also applies to the S-Bahn: outside of the S-Bahn ring, four-track viaducts presently accommodate freight trains. We propose using these for local and express passenger trains too. The viaducts will replace the railway embankments, reproducing the character of the S-Bahn viaducts and increasing the cross-connections and development potential. The regional stretches of the radials, S-Bahn, and U-Bahn are to be extended to create ideal transfer points on the circular railway for commuters.
The fifth ring is the Brandenburg Railway. The large Brandenburg circular ring (Berlin’s outer ring) will be closed to strengthen the independence of the surrounding region and to improve the regional network.