At the beginning of the 1990s, predictions of rapid population growth for Berlin fell flat and turned into great disappointment. In 1997, at the same time as almost 33,000 new apartments were being completed in the city, an exodus of Berliners was well underway. Today – around 25 years later – many can only long for the days of such high housing completions, especially as the city’s population continues its current rapid growth. Berlin’s authorities are now taking action to combat the housing shortage and have announced plans to develop a number of entirely new city quarters.
Berlin’s new “Growth City: Residential Construction and Urban Development” program is targeting the construction of twelve completely new city quarters, which will deliver up to 45,000 new apartments – and sites have been earmarked in both suburban and central districts. These will be vibrant neighborhoods, where people will want to live and work, say the city’s urban planners. The authorities are not calling for monotonous, dreary districts, but for a rich variety of architectural forms and approaches to housing, enriched by open and green spaces, and planned neighborhood centers and social infrastructure, such as retail, restaurants and cafes, schools and child daycare centers.
Europacity, a high-quality residential and business district, is one expression of these ambitions, and is taking shape to the north of Berlin’s main railway station. Europacity is about seven times the size of Potsdamer Platz. Parks and green areas, a promenade along the canal and a city square all contribute to the high quality of stay in Europacity. High-rise office buildings will accommodate up to 10,000 workers, and a series of architecturally distinct residential buildings will also be built here.
The KunstCampus, for example, will offer exclusive, waterfront properties in close proximity to the city's vibrant avant-garde art and culture scene, which has emerged here since the turn of the century. A total of 3,000 apartments are to be built in Europacity. The aim is to create a balanced social mix in the district, so the new housing will include condominiums and rental units, including both rent-controlled apartments and free-market rental units.
On the other side of the rail lines from Europacity, and soon to be connected by a bridge, is the district of Mittenmang, designed by the Berlin architectural office, Sauerbruch Hutton. More than 1,000 rental apartments and condominiums will be developed in 23 six- to eight-storey buildings. The zigzag arrangement of the individual buildings creates a multitude of inner courtyards, and the involvement of eight architectural offices lends the neighborhood its rich, multi-facetted character.
The heart of the quarter is a vibrant urban square, with a host of shops and an 18-storey residential tower, which is home to 266 micro-apartments – offering residents the highest standards of quality and modern furnishings, complete with concierge service and gym. The excellent transport connections offered by the nearby main rail station, combined with its truly central location, make this an especially attractive neighborhood for business people and other Monday-to-Friday Berliners.
Much needed living space is also being created in Prenzlauer Berg – one of Berlin’s most popular residential districts. On the one hand, a program to densify existing buildings has been announced, and on the other, an entirely new quarter will be developed along Michelangelostraße. As many as 2,700 apartments will be built here, together with a new school, a children’s daycare center, a sports hall, a shopping center and social projects. About 6,000 people could live in this new quarter, which is due to be built from 2018. The new residential buildings will have a maximum of six storeys, as well as large courtyards. The new neighborhood is to be built on an area that was originally left undeveloped to enable the extension of the city motorway. The focus here is on social housing in a “model ecological-social quarter.”
Stretching across almost 100 hectares, the largest of these new quarters is being developed in southern Berlin, on a former military training ground. Where U.S. troops trained for nearly forty years, the development’s plans now call for the creation of 1,900 apartments and 600 terraced and semi-detached houses, some state-subsidized and some privately-financed, including both rental units and units for sale. The entire quarter will comprise six individual neighborhoods, each with a single, 12-storey high-rise and a range of four- and six-storey buildings, grouped around small town squares. Schools, kindergartens, shops, doctors' practices, leisure and sports facilities, as well as district meeting points and parks will complete the new area. The unique feature of this new quarter is that only 39 of the almost 100 hectares will be developed. A majority of the site will be protected as a nature conservation area, and will be home to horses, frogs, sand lizards and bats.
Pictures and picture credits:
Title: Mittenmang © Groth Gruppe
01: Europaviertel © Roman Gerike
02: Mittenmang © Groth Gruppe
03: Quartier Michelangelostraße © Deimel Oelschläger