In the opinion of Senate Building Director Petra Kahlfeldt, Berlin must change in order to remain viable in times of climate protection and climate change. “What is needed is a critical revision of the existing city in order to lead it into a sustainable future,” said the trained architect of the German Press Agency. This must be done in dialogue with the population.
“As in the existing city, we also need efficient use of space in new buildings through compact, urban construction,” she explained. “Because the soil is not an expandable resource.” In this context, Kahlfeldt pleaded for clever and intelligent post-compaction. “Where there is a large demand for space, you have to build higher,” she added. And: “Where you build, you should build on surfaces that are already sealed.”
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According to Kahlfeldt, it is important to look at the existing city and its existing buildings and not just think of new quarters and new construction projects when it comes to urban redevelopment. From her point of view, it is just as important not to look at the topic solely with construction glasses.
“We need integrated development of all urban functions,” she said. This includes not only housing, but also work and leisure opportunities, schools, day-care centers, cultural offerings, trade, urban green spaces or shaded areas. Efficient use of space and compact construction means creating such offers in neighborhoods with urban planning and functional deficits with the aim of increasing the quality of life of the residents and creating a city of short distances.
An essential part of such a conversion is a developed and attractive local public transport system, which incidentally only needs half the space that the partially freeway-like streets of Berlin take up.
Kahlfeldt therefore called for the “long-standing pending” dismantling of oversized traffic routes such as streets or parking lots to city-friendly dimensions. On the one hand, areas could be unsealed in order to gain urban spaces for green and seepage areas, for example for rainwater management. On the other hand, new development could be created on former traffic areas with an improved construction method and mix of uses.
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Specifically, Kahlfeldt mentioned the branch of the A100 city highway that leads to Breitenbachplatz, or the A103 in Steglitz. “When dismantling the traffic areas that are destroying the city, the best potential inner-city areas could be converted into beautiful and sustainable quarters that complement the city plan for new housing, local recreation areas and uses oriented towards the common good.”
In a number of places in the city, including Spittelmarkt, many opportunities for urban redevelopment have remained untapped.
“We have sacrificed so much space to traffic,” said Kahlfeldt, looking back on past decades. These generated traffic and energy consumption. In addition, asphalt increases the heat in the city. “If you walk through the city with your eyes open, you can see what kind of saturation these traffic routes mean.” Now it’s a matter of getting that back.