Berlin Environmental Atlas

06.07 Urban Structure / 06.08 Urban Structure - Area Types Differentiated (Edition 2016)

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Map Description

Description of mapping units

The 52 different area types which are available as mapping units for the urban structure are categorized into six groups. This is designed to facilitate a logical assignment of types to the various uses, to support the mapping process. For example, block sections with residential use can only be assigned to area types belonging to the groups "Dense residential development" and "Low-density residential development". In Map Urban Structure (06.07), similar area types are grouped into 16 overarching structure types, as well as body of water (which cannot be assigned a "classic" structure type), for better readability. The definition and description of area types can also be seen in the report on the documentation of mapping units and updating of the database 2015 (German pdf; 7.6 MB).

Area types of the "Dense residential development" group

Group I High-density residential areas
TYPE 1 Dense block development, closed rear courtyard (1870s-1918), 5-6 storey
TYPE 2 Closed block development, rear courtyard (1870s-1918), 5-storey
TYPE 3 Closed and semi-open block development, decorative and garden courtyard (1870s-1918), 4-storey
TYPE 6 Mixed development, semi-open and open shed courtyard, 2-4-storey
TYPE 10 Block-edge development with large quadrangles (1920s-1940s), 2-5 storey
TYPE 72 Parallel row buildings with architectural green strips (1920-1930s), 2-5 storey
TYPE 8 Heterogeneous inner-city mixed development, post-war gap closure
TYPE 7 De-cored block-edge development, post-war gap closure
TYPE 73 Rental-flat buildings of the 1990s and later
TYPE 9 Large estate with tower high-rise buildings (1960s-1980), 4-11-storey and more
TYPE 11 Free row development, landscaped residential greenery (1950s-1970s), 2-6-storey
Tab. 1: Area types of the "Dense residential development" group

[Table is also available as Excel-File (MS-Excel is required).]

Area type 1 "Dense block development, closed rear courtyard (1870s-1918), 5-6-storey" emerged during the Wilhelminian period (1870-1918) in order to maximize land utilization for residential purposes. It is largely found inside the city rail (S-Bahn) Circle Line, and is characterized by close blocks of 5-6 storey buildings. Often, there are still several courtyards, usually entirely surrounded by buildings and connected with one another only by passageways; some of these courtyards are only the size of a light shaft. Sometimes, the courtyards are commercially used; usually however, they merely serve the purpose of access to the wings and rear buildings, and as placement for rubbish bins or bicycles. Not only in the case of commercial utilization, are these courtyards virtually completely impervious. This area type is thus the most densely built-up and also the most impervious type of residential area.

Area type 2 "Closed block development, rear courtyard (1870s-1918), 5-6-storey" designates blocks with primarily closed 5-storey block construction, also built during the same period, also within the Circle Line, for the rapidly growing population of Berlin. The blocks consist largely of old buildings with wings and/or parallel rear buildings. In addition, there are also commercial and industrial buildings, public facilities buildings and restored or new buildings at the block-edges. The courtyards are encompassed by high buildings on several sides, but only rarely on all sides. There are often separated from neighbouring courtyards by walls or fences, so that they together constitute angled interior block spaces. Often, courtyard areas have been connected with one another in the context of renovation measures by means of partial demolitions, and are now used as comprehensive areas for such public facilities as childcare centres etc.
This area type is characterized by considerable mixture of residential areas and workplaces. It also includes larger commercial operations which require large non-built-up spaces for storage purposes, deliveries, car parks etc.
This category has a somewhat lesser degree of density and impermeability than the area type "Dense block development". In better neighbourhoods, the courtyards often have old trees, paved walkways and decorative flower beds. In residential areas with a lesser degree of renovation, the share of completely impervious and minimally green courtyards is higher.

Area type 3 "Closed and semi-open block development, decorative and garden courtyard (1870s-1918), 4-storey", is characterized by 4-storey block construction, often with front yards. The blocks with decorative and garden courtyards were often built during the Wilhelminian period (1870s-1918) in the then-suburbs of Berlin outside the Circle Line (today’s edge of the inner city). These buildings have only wings or only parallel rear buildings, but generally not both. They are characterized by a much sunnier interior block space than is the case for the above two area types; it is usually designed as a garden.

Area type 6 "Mixed development, semi-open and open shed courtyard, 2-4-storey" is characterized by open mixed structures, particularly at the edge of the inner city and at the edge of the city, and is there especially associated with the old village cores and sub-centres. There are some remains of old structures which were there before 1870, sometimes low, old buildings, sheds and workshops in the courtyards, and these areas are also interspersed with buildings associated with the 4-storey construction of the "decorative and garden courtyard" type, as well as new buildings – both single-family and multifamily houses, and rental-flat buildings – built after 1945. Accordingly, the appearance of these areas is fairly heterogeneous. Their characteristic feature is interior block spaces broken down into small parts, often with commercially used workshops and storage areas and parking spaces, but also some privately used vegetable gardens and orchards.

Area type 10 "Block-edge development with large quadrangles (1920-1940s), 2-5-storey" designates the type of block-edge construction with large residential inner quadrangles, which was typical for the period from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s.
The large quadrangles were formed by the complete or near-complete enclosure by 2 or 5-storey buildings directly on the street line. They were associated with more or less representatively designed entry areas, and sometimes semi-public passageways connecting the quadrangles with the streets. The large quadrangles are almost entirely green, and are characterized by an architecturally symmetrical design. In some early estates, the quadrangle was apportioned into residents' gardens surrounded by hedges. Otherwise, the predominant form was an open space design with lawns and scattered old trees. Particularly characteristic were such "informal" species (birch or willow), which contrasted with the symmetrically arranged, "architecturally-shaped" trees (Lombardy poplar and spruce). Access paths were generally sparingly designed; however, parking garages were in some cases added later.

Area type 72 "Parallel row buildings with architectural green strips (1920s-1930s), 2-5-storey" describes the row housing of the 1920s and 1930s. During the late 1920s and in the 1930s, the first row houses were built in Berlin. The main purpose was to achieve optimum utilization of the lots, and to provide much light, air and sun to all the residences. The long rows of 2-5 storey houses were arranged parallel to one another. The free space between the houses was narrow and elongated, and open on the short sides.
The row houses give the streets a spatial closure, since they were not detached in the middle of the lots, as would be common after the 1950s. Rather, they were uniformly arranged at right angles to the street, so that their narrow edges together formed the building line. In some cases, terminal lateral buildings were arranged parallel to the street, so that a mixture of row and block-edge construction emerged, resulting in variegated exterior spaces. Passageways, vistas and jutties were used to visually break up the appearance of these streets. Moreover, the street space was varied by placing the buildings in front of or behind the building line, and with local extensions. Front yards were almost always provided.

Area type 8 "Heterogeneous inner-city mixed development, post-war gap closure" is also located within the residential neighbourhoods built during the Wilhelminian period. Here, unlike the previous area types, high-rise buildings with rental flats and offices were often built as rows or single towers in the block sections, often with no regard for the historic building lines or building heights of those streets. Remainders of Wilhelminian-period buildings are only sporadically present. The blocks have neither block interior spaces nor closed semiprivate courtyard areas. The non-enclosed open areas serve as car parks in the form of underground or surface parking. The other open areas are largely designed as non-usable green fringe.

Area type 7 "De-cored block-edge development, post-war gap closure" is scattered throughout the Wilhelminian-period residential neighbourhoods in the inner-city and the inner-city edge. The old buildings destroyed in the Second World War were replaced by the reconstruction of those buildings, or by new buildings in the gaps. Generally, the new buildings were placed along the same building lines as the old ones, so that this area type is largely characterized by closed block-edge construction, which is however sometimes interrupted by driveways, car parks, gaps, etc.
In the context of modernization with the new construction of front buildings, it was not uncommon for all lateral and rear buildings, as well as sheds, to be torn down. The result was a block interior area that was more open than the original structure; generally, it is subdivided at the lot boundaries by fences. In addition to the old structuring of the courtyards, these areas are often dominated by car parks surrounded by green space, such as lawns and bushes. In some cases, however, relatively large interior spaces were created, which have been designed as leisure spaces for the inhabitants, with green spaces and lawns, playgrounds and benches, or with such public facilities as childcare centres.

Area type 73 "Rental-flat buildings of the 1990s and later" includes those areas built since the beginning of the 1990s, which are considerably different from the typical large estates (cf. area type 9 "Large estate with tower high-rise buildings (1960s-1990s)"), and include a wide range of urban development structures, e.g. block-edge, row houses, town villas and townhouses. For the most part, these are major residential development projects of the 1990s and the first years of the 21st century, which have been carried out in the context of major urban development measures (Wasserstadt Berlin-Oberhavel, Rummelsburger Bucht) and other large projects (Karow-Nord, Buchholz etc.). By contrast, single-family housing areas, row house and duplex estates built during the 1990s and later are assigned to the area types with unspecified building age (area types 22 "Row houses and duplex with yards" and 23 "Detached single-family homes with yards").
Open spaces and interior courtyard areas of the estates built since the 1990s are often designed as semi-public green spaces with playgrounds and leisure areas; the ground-floor flats often have terraces or small garden areas. Car parking space is increasingly being provided in underground garages.
Moreover, the estates built since the 1990s have a relatively energy-saving, in some cases ecologically oriented type of construction, thanks to current standards (relatively good insulation, in some cases passive houses, rainwater seepage, greened roofs, etc.).

The buildings of area type 9 "Large estate with tower high-rise buildings (1960s-1990s), 4-11-storey" appeared between the late 1960s and the end of the 1990s. Often, these were comprehensive large-scale residential areas at the edge of the city (satellite towns), mostly built by concrete plate construction. Smaller estates with row or block development can be found in the sub-centres and in the inner-city area. In the eastern part of the city, concrete plate construction was sporadically used even within the historic structural area.
Typically, unlike the following area type 11 "Free row development with landscaped residential greenery (1950s-1970s)", various building heights and designs were used within the same estate. Often, these were 4–8-storey, semi-open block-edge developments, or mixtures of block-edge and row developments, which were in some cases combined with single tower high-rises or high-rise chains of ten storeys or more. Especially in the major estates, the buildings were often placed with no reference whatever to the streets, so that there is no homogeneous spatial street structure.
Large, non-enclosed open spaces often exist between the buildings, surrounded by large numbers of surface car parks. The pervious surfaces are largely covered by lawns and shrubbery.

Area type 11 "Free row development with landscaped residential greenery (1950s-1970s), 2-6-storey" emerged during the post-war period, primarily during the '50s through the '70s, in the context of the reconstruction programmes. The elongated mostly 4-storey blocks of houses arranged in rows were for the most part build as coherent estates in former residential areas badly destroyed in the war in the inner-city, and along the edges of the densely built-up areas at the inner-city edge.
Unlike the row housing of the '20s and '30s, the construction was no longer oriented directly toward the existing street grid. It is often oriented in an east-westerly direction, in order to provide more sunlight for the flats, but is no longer as strictly parallel as the rows built during the '20s and '30s. In the later years, the rows were often built in a staggered and shifted arrangement, or arbitrarily lined up along a curving pattern of streets. During the 1970s, designs in chain or spider-web form also emerged. By contrast with the area type "Large estate with tower high-rise buildings" each estate generally had uniform designs and heights.

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