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Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030

Berlin Today: Status Report (compact version from 2013)

Wandmalerei in Kreuzberg
Foto: human /

The strategies of the Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 stem from the status report as a knowledge-based analysis of Berlin’s urban development. The report, compiled under the aegis of the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment along with members of various senate departments and external experts, reconditions the spheres of activity relevant for long-term urban development. The status report details the most important developments in Berlin and formulates necessary measures as well as central challenges. The report is the central foundation for the debate over development needs and the strategies for the city’s future.

Clicking on a topic provides a summary of the individual chapters:

Berlin today: An analysis of Berlin’s urban development

Capital and metropolitan region
Hauptstadt - Photo: Katja Neubauer /
Photo: Katja Neubauer /

Cities and regions around the world compete with one another for companies, investment, bright minds and tourists. The Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region has significantly enhanced its appeal in this location competition. As the capital of Germany, Berlin is home to government and administrative institutions and attracts international and civil society organisations. Furthermore, Berlin receives high marks with an extraordinarily high density of top universities and non-university research. The city earns particular appeal as a location for creatives: Creative artists and those involved in the creative industries move from other parts of Germany and abroad to settle in Berlin, further enhancing the city’s cultural prestige. This is also reflected in the city tourism statistics, which point to Berlin as a top destination in Europe.

In order to successfully continue along this path, Berlin must improve its accessibility from within Germany and from abroad so as to increase its appeal for innovative research and competitive companies.

Population development and demographic development
Bevölkerung - Photo: priamos /
Photo: priamos /

Berlin is an island of growth in eastern Germany. Since its lowest population figures in the year 2000, Berlin has gained around 120,000 residents, 100,000 alone in the past three years. The influx of predominantly young adults is currently slowing demographic change. Nevertheless, Berlin is getting older; the city’s average age is rising. At the same time, it is becoming even more international. Every third migration occurred between Berlin and a foreign country; 14 per cent of those living in Berlin have a foreign passport; over one-quarter has a migration background, and in the case of children and teens the figure is almost one-half. The diversity of lifestyles is increasing; one-person households and single-parent households have a large share. Social problems, such as child and family poverty, are concentrated in several areas of the city.

For the foreseeable future, Berlin will retain its magnet effect for young immigrants. To be a home with equal opportunities for them and for those with ancestral roots in Berlin is a challenge for the urban development of today and of the future.

The Economy
Wirtschaft - Photo: human /
Photo: human /

Berlin’s economy is a on a steady course of growth. The industries responsible for the growth include the creative industries, tourism and production-oriented services as well as an innovative industry with recently developed products. Above all, the city’s scientific and cultural wealth proves to be a location advantage: The extraordinary high density of scientific institutions and the resulting innovation- and technology-oriented companies are beacons of the region. The creative industries are growing and tourism figures set new highs each year, producing a positive reciprocal effect. Office space is cheaper in Berlin when compared to other cities in Germany and abroad.

Economic success messages accompany weaknesses that should be addressed: Corporate headquarters of large companies are only occasionally located in the city; unemployment is sinking, although it is still comparatively high; income levels hover under the German average. There are attempts to increase the number of corporate headquarters and jobs in Berlin while accelerating investment and growth, in order to further strengthen the city’s excellent research cluster.

Science and research
Wissenschaft - Photo:  eskemar /
Photo: eskemar /

Berlin has successfully positioned itself as a location for science and research. More than in any other region of Germany or Europe, institutions of this kind have concentrated themselves in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region, giving rise to a knowledge-driven development of the city. With 14 universities, colleges of applied sciences and art colleges, Berlin is not only one of the world’s most attractive locations for education. It also possesses around 40 non-university research and science institutions of Germany’s four large research foundations – more than Munich and Hamburg combined. The knowledge is situated at the four large universities (Berlin Institute of Technology, Humboldt-Universität, Freie Universität and the Berlin University of the Arts) as well as in locations such as Adlershof and Oberschöneweide. Commercial research has thus far not yet reached the desired magnitude. Nonetheless, Berlin companies are carrying out intensive and successful research in new technologies. They profit from their close proximity to one another, which facilitates exchange and stimulates innovation.

These competencies should be expanded to sharpen Berlin’s location profile as a research-oriented and innovative metropolis. Therefore, synergies between science and industry should be encouraged, while growth impulses are given to promising industries. Spatial urban development planning is already underway on several ambitious flagship projects, such as the subsequent utilisation of Tegel airport, the Berlin-Buch Health and Biotechnology Campus and the Adlershof Technology Park.

Wohnen - Photo: Spectral-Design /
Photo: Spectral-Design /

Flat searching, rental prices and real estate prices are currently among the most discussed topics in Berlin. There are just under two million residential units in Berlin, of which 86 per cent are rental flats – the highest percentage in all of Germany. The housing market in the capital is in no way uniform: Prices indicate considerable variation depending on district. As a reaction to the high demand for housing, more and more flats are being built, mostly in the form of multi-storey residential buildings. The highest concentration of these new flats is in the districts of Pankow and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. With a growth of almost seven per cent between 2001 and 2010, the number of households increased much more sharply than population growth (2000 to 2011: +2.9%). The vacancy rate sank five per cent (2012) during the same time period. In the more sought-after inner-city districts, the supply shortage forced real estate rental and purchase prices to rise.

Urban development faces the challenge of maintaining affordable housing. Flat construction is to be accelerated, while at the same time ensuring that the flats target broad sections of the population and correspond to the diversity of the metropolitan society.

Transport and mobility
Photo: DavidB /
Photo: DavidB /

In recent years Berlin was able to successfully improve its transport and mobility situation. The trend marked by the growth of suburban residential areas around the periphery of the city during the 1990s – and the stream of commuters it created – has reversed itself in favour of Berlin. Within Berlin, individual motorised traffic has significantly decreased since the year 2000, while eco-mobility has further increased: Berliners use public transportation, bicycles, or their own two feet for over two-thirds of their travel about the city. Traffic noise is currently worst in inner-city districts such as Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Tiergarten, as well as areas along main traffic arteries. Yet parking management and 30-KPH zones have shown positive results. Becoming Germany’s capital has significantly increased domestic and international long-distance traffic to and from Berlin, while new infrastructure projects, such as the new central train station, have enhanced the city’s appeal.

For the coming years, Berlin has set additional ambitious goals: By 2050, Berlin wants to be a climate-neutral city, and as early as 2020 it is aiming for a level of CO2 emissions that is 40 per cent lower than it was in 1990. Transport plays a key role in achieving these goals. Above all, inner-city districts will be further relieved of automobile traffic. Challenges lie in increasing road safety, maintaining various elements of transport infrastructure and reducing noise pollution and emissions.

Photo: matmoon /
Photo: matmoon /

Berlin is increasingly improving its conditions for a long, healthy life. In particular, life expectancy of Berlin residents is rising faster than the national average; children are growing up more and more healthily (an increase in vaccinations). However, a significant, geographic coherence exists between a weak social structure and the increased prevalence of acute and chronic illnesses. Unemployment, less education and a migrant background have negative effects on health. Areas of the city suffering from structural environmental pollution, e.g. noise emissions, often possess problematic social structures. This spatial-environmental injustice is concentrated above all in the inner-city areas with densely situated structures, such as the north of Kreuzberg and Neukölln, Wedding and southern Reinickendorf.

It is thus important to minimise the unequal distribution of health and environment pollution in municipal areas, ensure children a healthy upbringing, implement courses of prevention where any gaps may exist in health services, preserve autonomy and quality of life in old age, and adequately tailor infrastructure according to health and social factors.

Photo: Duftomat /
Photo: Duftomat /

As a sports metropolis, Berlin holds a top spot both nationally and internationally. Countless major events draw athletes and spectators to the capital from the rest of Germany and abroad. Over 1,000 state-owned sports halls, 100 running tracks and 300 large playing fields are in use in around 2,000 sports clubs with over 590,000 members. In addition, there are numerous commercial offerings and – of crucial importance – Berlin’s gardens and parks. Almost two-thirds of athletic activities are privately organised, many in public venues; only slightly less than 20 per cent of Berliners are involved in sports clubs. Sports allow citizens to have better identification with their city and their neighbourhood. Sports are important for social interactions and integration as well as for a person’s wellbeing and health. Sports are also significant for Berlin’s economy. The 2,900 companies and freelancers in the sports sector earned over 1 billion euros in 2010.

Berlin’s increasing resident population and the ongoing diversification of sports offerings point to an increasing future demand for sporting activities. It is expedient to bring the wide array of spatial demands, which sports place on the public realm, into harmony with other uses of city space.

Photo:Matthias Heyde / Humboldt Universität
Photo: Matthias Heyde / Humboldt Universität

Education is a key to social integration and a driver of economic development. However, opportunities for education are still too strongly dependent on the social class of one’s parents. In Berlin, a disproportionately large number of children grow up in uneducated households, a factor expressed, for example, in shortcomings related to a lack of language proficiency. This problem especially affects children with migration backgrounds. As a rule, they attend day-care institutions later and often leave school only with a secondary school education certificate, and sometimes not even that. Overall, the initial conditions for education are nevertheless favourable, as evidenced, for example, by Berlin’s over-average number of childcare facilities. Berlin has successfully expanded the capacity of its university system: Its number of students has been rising steadily for years. In the future, postgraduate professional education will become more important. It is projected that by 2030 the labour force will experience a shortage of around 460,000 workers of all qualifications. This pertains to the regional level. The potential for postgraduate professional education is currently far from exhausted.

A rising number of residents, social-geographic polarisation and segregation in education and childcare, the capacity of the university system, and the shortage of skilled workers are challenges for the offerings of pre-school childcare, general education, professional training, degree courses and lifelong further training in Berlin.

Environment, energy and climate
Photo: mallomoi /
Photo: mallomoi /

In recent years Berlin has achieved important results, yet it nevertheless sees itself confronted with environmental problems specific to large cities. The most severe environmental burden is noise, above all from traffic. With a noise action plan and the “Quiet Berlin” action, the issue is currently returning to the top of the agenda. Berlin has ambitious goals for the future: Berlin wants to become climate-neutral by 2050. The most important piece of the puzzle is the reduction of harmful emissions. Alongside precautionary climate protection, adapting to climate change will gain importance in the future: Even in Berlin, higher temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events are predicted. The Urban Development Plan Climate specifies pressing measures, such as energy-related building renovation and the improvement of urban-climatic offset factors. One challenge is the state of the Berlin waterscape, with its diverse set of functions for the urban climate and drinking water supply, as a source of recreation, and its role in biotope and species conservation. The waters are filled with nutrients or contaminants to varying degrees. One need for action is, above all, where sewer systems overflow during heavy rain, causing the waters to become polluted via rainwater drainage systems. Positive results can be seen in terms of waste management: The annual volumes of waste have been declining sharply for years, while the rate of recycling has steadily risen.

Environment, nature and climate protection is becoming more and more difficult. On top of immediate environmental problems such as noise and water pollution are problems that cannot be addressed at the local level, as they depend on global factors such as general patterns and trends of human consumption and mobility. In this case, it is especially important to concentrate on the further development and implementation of plans and concepts, to find innovative ideas for environment-friendly modes of transportation and to include all relevant society stakeholders.

Cityscape and open spaces
Photo: Jörg Engelbrecht /
Photo: Jörg Engelbrecht /

Berlin is an especially green city. Nearly 44 per cent of its land area is public parks and recreation areas, playgrounds and athletic fields, cemeteries, fallow land, farmland and pastures, or water (Paris: 23 per cent, New York City: 27 per cent, London: 42 per cent). Since the fall of the Wall, Berlin has expanded and networked its open spaces; countless new green areas, parks and green corridors are in the planning or have already been implemented, including Mauerpark, Gleisdreieck Park, Nature Park Südgelände, Tempelhofer Feld and the Wuhletal and Bullengraben greenways. Roughly 2.2 million Berliners live within walking distance to a public park. The over 2,500 parks and 1,850 playgrounds contribute significantly to the high quality of life in the capital. The Cityscape Strategy underscores Berlin’s large percentage of green areas as a location factor and as an opportunity to profile the city as a “green metropolis”.

But demands on open areas are rising: The quest for nature or peace and quiet, athletic training, outdoor socialising, as well as new and temporary land use, are all competing for space. Berlin will need to further address these varied requirements for open space as well as the problem of structurally preserving and caring for its vast array of open-area facilities with limited financial resources.


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