Berlin Discusses a 13th District

It is unlikely that the influx into Berlin will come to an end. But there’s already suggestions about expanding it by a whole new district.

Is Berlin going to be enhanced by a new district soon? (Image:

Berlin grows and grows. However, it’s not only living space that is getting rare, but also the amount of available schools, daycares, office rooms and construction lands. For this reason, the paper “Berliner Morgenpost” consulted politicians, urban planners, architects and academics on whether the 12 districts should be expanded by another quarter that aims to discharge the housing market.

Fundamentally, says chairman of the Future Foundation Berlin and former urban development minister Volker Hassemer, these considerations are good, but “not simple”.  Since there’s a lack of usable land, planners would have to work together with the local communities of Brandenburg. Over there, all the spread out areas could be “cleverly compiled” into a 13th district.  A cooperation with Brandenburg is definitely necessary, says Tobias Schulze, deputy chairperson of The Left (Die Linke) Berlin. For him, an “integrative model-district”, inspired by housing construction of the 20s, would be an exciting project.

Cooperating with Brandenburg is going to be essential

Philipp Misselwitz, professor for International Urbanism of the Technical University of Berlin, considers the new district a “chance to tackle the topic Berlin-Brandenburg in a new way”. Especially since many commuters have a firm connection to Berlin, people could no more think within a hundred-year-old city borders. Instead, urban planners should incorporate the surrounding region as well.

Especially big growing areas, that loom into the outskirts from several parts of the city, are offering sufficient space. According to Christian Gräff, spokesman for constructional and housing policy issues of the CDU, the area between Neukölln, Treptow-Köpenick, Schönefeld and Blankenfelde-Mahlow in the Southeast is worth considering. In the West, this would be between Spandau, Zehlendorf, Potsdam and Falkensee, while the North would provide space at Pankow, Buch, Bernau and Oranienburg. An inclusion of Brandenburg is vital to Gräff as well. His vision includes a city district that implements sustainable construction forms through modern technology, includes all social classes and is managed through a digitally executed model management.

Living at former airports?

Architect Urs Füssler is caring about the particular way of construction. He suggests the airport BER in Schönefeld, which is still under construction, for subsequent use. According to him, “airports could be rebuilt as cities after introducing hybrid drives in civil aviation”.

Urbanologist Aljoscha Hofmann from the initiative Think Berlin is speculating about using an airport area as well, which in his case is the airport Tegel. This one would have to “be closed first of all” however. With that, an overhaul of previous plans that spanned across 5,000 flats would be necessary. Like many of his previous speakers, he as well envisions a 13th district most likely in the metropolitan region of Berlin.

…but the execution is questionable and time consuming

The actual execution of such a project is facing several further obstacles however. IHK division manager for city development, Jochen Brückmann, emphasizes the lengthiness of this undertaking. Especially since old districts would need to be adjusted to the new one, conflicts with the long established population are going to arise, as past experience has shown. Already now, all areas that come into question are highly controversial, which is going to delay an implementation by centuries, instead of only years.

Maren Kern, head of the Berlin-Brandenburg housing company association, is critical of the whole concept as such. For instance, new and necessary administrative- and infrastructures would have to be developed, which is hardly predictable both time and plan wise. She suggests to lay focus on new construction activities. “Flats for many thousand people could be built” each at Elisabeth Aue, airport Tegel and the border areas of the Tempelhofer Feld. For the latter ones, the association expects at least 10,000 flats each.

It can’t be estimated when or how Berlin is going to receive its 13th district. What is certain, is that city marketing can benefit from that. Just in the previous year, Frankfurt am Main opened up its “new old town”. According to Sabine Gnau of the marketing company Frankfurt-Tourismus, this district offers the possibility to supplement the image of the “cold business town” by “another, softer” impression – something that’s certainly not uninteresting for the capital as well.

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