An area with a glorious history rooted in the early stages of the Cold War – when Germany was split in two between the Soviet Union and the North Atlantic Alliance, when Berlin itself was divided by the two superpowers – and set in the Soviet half, with a single gateway keeping it connected to its “western destiny”: an airport rapidly set up in 1948 to assure an entryway into the western sector of the city. What then seemed an impossible project proved successful. Today, on that same area where flights once departed and landed, now moved to the new Brandenburg Airport, an ambitious masterplan is being developed, a project that once again encourages to look to the future.
Coordinated by the State of Berlin via a specifically created company, Tegel Project Gmbh, this project covering a total 500 hectares features two cornerstones: the large Berlin TXL Urban Tech Republic innovation campus and the Schumacher Quartier residential area.
Berlin TXL – The Urban Tech Republic
In the Urban Tech Republic as many as 1,000 large and small businesses with 20,000 employees will work in research, development, and production. And more than 2,500 students will move into the former terminal building along with the prestigious Berliner Hochschule für Technik University. In total around 5,000 students will populate the Berlin TXL campus. Berlin TXL will focus on what keeps the 21st century’s growing major cities alive: the efficient use of energy, sustainable construction, eco-friendly mobility, recycling, networked control of systems, clean water, and application of new materials.
Schumacher Quartier, which will be located to the west of the airport tunnel, closes the historic gap in the western sector of Kurt- Schumacher-Platz and will provide upwards of 5,000 homes for more than 10,000 people, together with the corresponding amenities such as schools, daycare centers, shopping facilities, and lots of greenery. A further 4,000 homes are planned for the neighboring districts of Cité Pasteur and TXL Nord. As it will be a sustainable and socially diverse area, Schumacher Quartier will make an important contribution to the strategy for housing construction and urban development in the German capital. “In Berlin, as in many other cities, there is a shortage of affordable housin”, said Tegel Projekt GmbH chief executive officer Philipp Bouteiller in a statement. “This causes people with lower incomes to be pushed out of the inner cities. Our vision is different: Berlin TXL should not be a place for a high-income clientele only, but a sustainable, liveable space for people of all ages and regardless of their income”.
When complete, the residential area will have diverse housing options, with 10 per cent of residential units reserved for student housing. The development would include schools, daycare centres, shopping facilities and public spaces while a “low-energy network” would supply Berlin TXL with sustainable heating and cooling. The car-free district will also have its own bicycle lanes and bicycle highways, building on a campaign by Berlin Autofrei to make Berlin’s centre the largest car-free urban area in the world. “The green technologies of the future that are developed and produced in the Urban Tech Republic will be used in Schumacher Quartier”, explains Philipp Bouteiller. Nearly half of the entire space will be set aside as a nature reserve, with Grün Berlin responsible for the landscape development.
German architecture studio Von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects (GMP), which designed the original brutalist buildings at the airport, will renovate the old hexagonal terminal buildings into the new research park. The finalization of the first construction phase in the Urban Tech Republic and in the Schumacher Quartier is planned for 2027 as is also the case with the completion of a major portion of the building refurbishments. Development of the overall project in four construction phases up to around 2040.