Today the government agency responsible for the development and planning of Berlin is the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment (stadtentwicklung). They oversee every aspect of development in the city and their website (see link below) covers everything from transportation, building management, planning, and environmental concerns. A few of the current projects underway are the replacement building for the German Parliament (Bundestag), the Humboldt-Forum, and the renovation of the Alexanderplatz, the historic public square in the Mitte district. The Department is currently headed by Senator Michael Muller and is one of the administrative bodies of the Senate of Berlin.
Their home page: http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/
The sites are in German, so you will need to have your browser translate the page for you.
According to the textbook, “five types of building projects have been initiated” since Berlin’s reunification in 1989.
1. Construction of a new government complex for Berlin as the capital city of a reunited Germany.
2. Massive reconstruction along Friedrichstrasse.
3. Enormous construction projects at Potsdamer Platz, just south of the Brandenburg Gate.
4. Extensive improvement of public transportation systems.
5. Completion of various structures commemorating World War II.
Information derived from:
Brunn, Stanley D., Maureen Hays-Mitchell, Donald J. Zeigler, and Ellen R. White. Cities of the World: World: Regional Urban Development. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
In order to socially integrate several of the neighborhoods of Berlin that are struggling with a negative socio-economic and socio-spatial situation, the Berlin city government, the Senat, implemented the first phase of the social integrative city program. The program, initiated in 1999, brings hope for Berlin’s urban areas or districts to be stable and developed. These areas had certain urban development needs that were classified by factors such as design and construction, infrastructure, low economic stagnation and activity, high unemployment rate, social and cultural segregation and increasing crime rates in public places. Originally, 15 neighborhoods and urban areas were included in phase one, and then two were added. Through neighborhood management, projects and encouraging residents to take local responsibility, improvements in social integration can be achieved at the neighborhood level. Inevitably, three main issues still remain—the need to continuously adjust the “bottom-up” and “top-down” strategies, the consideration of ethnic and social differences and the fact that there are still districts and interdistrict systems.
Berlin: urban, social and ethnic integration – an urban policy challenge
Ingeborg Beer, Alev Deniz, Hanns-Uve Schwedle
Before unification, West Berlin had a much greater immigration rate than East Berlin. Beginning in the 1960s, West Berlin began recruiting for “guest workers,” or Gastarbeiter, who came from Turkey and Yugoslavia mostly. Recruitment ended by 1974, but West Berlin had become a much more popular city for people who were seeking asylum and refugees from all over the world. East Berlin had some refugee migrants, but a very small number compared to West Berlin.
After unification, immigration patterns were pretty much normal again. “Ethnic” Germans came to be granted German citizenship yet again. For many, this was a resettling stage, but a percentage of migrants coming to settle in Berlin after unification were non-German. In 1991, 9.9 percent of the population was non-German, but in 2004, the percentage of non-Germans who contributed to the 3.39 million inhabitants increased to about 13.4 percent. Most of these immigrants have proven to be from Turkey.
A year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the West Berlin Senate of the Department for Urban Development and Environmental Protection and the East Berlin Municipal Authority for the Environment and Nature Conservation both agreed and passed a resolution to apply the Berlin Landscape Program, which included the Nature Conservation and Land Use Plan, to the entire city. The decision would allow the essential environmental consideration it needed to protect the natural ecology of the city when constructing in an open space system. Thus strict codes and regulations ensured that more environmentally friendly methods of design and construction were taken in building in the city.
To avoid the environmental blunders of the Cold War, Berlin adopted a new energy action plan called “Berlin spart Energie” which would later lead to an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions and intensify the use of solar energy in both legislation and urban design. Under the new agreement, 75% of all new buildings constructed in the city every year must include solar thermal technologies in their design (Photovoltaic roofs).
A great example of Berlin’s initiative to design and build more “green” structures is the International Solar Centre, a large office building with innovation energy conservation features and reduced carbon footprint. The Solar Centre, finished in 2003, utilizes high thermal insulation facades and windows with innovative shading systems that allows natural ventilation during different seasons. The building’s energy demand is supplemented by photovoltaic roofs and a sophisticated heat storage system. The cooling system for the building is provided by the unique window and facade design which allows the natural wind to ventilate the majority of the building. The heating system consist of heating rods that charge with sunlight and is pumped throughout the building.
After the divide between the two Berlins was united, the need for a robust transportation system was rekindled. Ghost Stations, subway stations which were shut down during the Cold War, were reopened and improved with new and more efficient subway trains and cleaner service.
An additional means of transportation that spread through Berlin was the bicycle. One of the “greenest” ways to travel, Berliners took to cycling exceptionally fast, starting right after the end of the cold war. Large bicycle lanes were constructed that connected all parts of the city together, both near and far. Twenty years later, the cyclist now account for 13% of total traffic in Berlin.
In the late 2000s, Berlin started a new transportation program aimed at reducing carbon emissions for vehicles called “Berlin’s Environmental Zone” which restricts vehicles from entering and driving within them if they do not meet certain rigorous safety and environmental standards including car weight, mileage, and exhaust emissions.