Urban Construction  


Archive: The Capital City of Berlin - Documentation

1. Planning Law

According to the Federal Building Law the "construction direction planning" of cities and communities takes place in two stages: the master plan and the local plan. In the master plan, the main idea is the best possible spatial division of surface areas for different purposes - for example residence, work, supply of goods, services and recreation. The local plan legally fixes the surface areas for various utilisations (building surfaces, street surfaces, green areas). Criteria such as building lines, boundaries, number of full storeys and building heights are definitively prescribed for the areas on which it is possible to build. If needed, designing stipulations are also established, e.g. materials, colours or places for advertising.

The local plan is based upon the results of urban-constructional studies and competitions and is discussed in public procedures. Various preparations are necessary before it is approved. Urban-constructional guiding ideas are developed and made concrete. Reports may still be ordered in order to examine intentions for the street-area design or the quality of the green areas, or to concretise gender matters. Technical reports examine noise protection and the effects of the building activities on the city climate. With the "Spreebogen Energy Concept" an innovative and ecological energy provision for the government and parliamentary buildings was prepared, examined and realised.

Local plans must be rapidly set up and agreed upon in the area of development. They were introduced and carried out early on in all important areas as well. The arrangement of local plans for most of the area (Moabiter Werder, Spreebogen, Wilhelmstraße) was decided upon even before the fixing of the developmental area, as a result of the preparatory examinations. The constitutional authorities of the Federation have been granted the right, as stated in the Building Law, that their requirements be especially taken into account in the preparation of local plans. Should Berlin not act according to their wishes, the case of conflict will be discussed in the Combined Commission of Federation/Berlin. If no agreement is reached, the Federation can press through with its demands. Be that as it may, this possibility is not applied due to the good arrangements.
Local plans for the development area (as of 12 July 2006)
Local plans for the development area
(as of 12 July 2006)

Local Plan on Pariser Platz

Local Plan on Pariser Platz The local plan procedure will be explained here using local Plan I-200 Pariser Platz as an example. Pariser Platz with the Brandenburger Tor is one of the city's strongest identification points. Because of the Wall, the Brandenburger Tor became the symbol for the division of Europe. The fall of the Wall in Autumn 1989 changed the landmark of the city into the symbol of unity. No other place in Berlin's historical centre was paid so much attention during the years after the fall of the Wall.

Corresponding to the significance of this location, the planning should be carried out in a legally regulated procedure. The local plan procedure was already begun on 31 October 1992 as a result of the Arrangement Committee. The Combined Commission of Federation/Berlin resolved to rebuild Pariser Platz in its historical form in 1993. During the course of the early citizens' participation from 1 December to 23 December 1993, the planning concepts of the State of Berlin were publicly shown. The specialist public, politicians and citizens discussed the future appearance of the square. Basic questions, planning goals were discussed and constructional statements were made in numerous discussions about architecture, in reports and media reports.

The at times vehement discussions primarily centred round the design regulations. The positions were very much opposed at first. They ranged from the demand for a reconstruction true to the original historical buildings to a complete rejection of regularities. But not only the public discussed the plan passionately - all institutions affected by it were involved in the participation of the authorities from 8 August to 10 October 1994 - as in every local plan procedure - and set forth their objections. After this, anyone could put in a word in the public interpretation of the plan from 27 March until 28 April 1995.

The controversial debates resulted in design guidelines which had been especially developed for this sensitive place and were firmly anchored in the local plan. The idea behind these was not the reconstruction of the lost buildings, but the restoration of the square space. There was also agreement for the most part concerning the future utilisation. Embassies on their historical locations, a hotel, office and business buildings, as well as the Academy of the Arts, were to be accommodated on the square - a mixture of utilisations corresponding to the historical model of Berlin.

The local plan, legally resolved on 22 June 1995 by the House of Representatives, includes a resumption of the urban building line, the closed block corners and the lot structures. The height limitation of the buildings is related to the Brandenburger Tor in scale and proportion. They could be derived from the pre-war condition of the square.

All designs for the new constructions were measured according to the local plan and had to be adjusted in some cases. A competition was held for nearly all the buildings, which also set compliance with the design guidelines as a condition. At first the architects found these directions to be an unrea-sonably confining corset. But later they accepted the rules as a special chal-lenge. The projects realised in the meantime show that there was plenty of room for the architects' individual styles within the limits set by the design guidelines.

The local plan was established on 25 January 1996 and is therefore legally binding and valid like a local law. It had to be altered one more time for the placement of the American Embassy, since the margin of safety could no longer guarantee adherence to the originally planned location of the building. In order to transfer it back, the plan was once again introduced to the public from 14 July until 15 August 2003 and resolved by the House of Representatives with the alterations on 13 November 2003. Thus the keystone of Pariser Platz could be built and the new "carré" is complete.

Local Plan I-200 for Pariser Platz
Local Plan I-200 for Pariser Platz

1995 - Area of Local Plan for  Pariser Platz; Photo: Luftbildarchiv Berlin
1995 - Area of Local Plan for Pariser Platz
Photo: Luftbildarchiv Berlin

2004 - Pariser Platz
2004 - Pariser Platz