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Building Heights 2022

Map Description

The vertical extent of Berlin’s buildings is intertwined with the building history of the city, which includes the reconstruction measures after World War II. The descriptions for the Environmental Atlas maps “Urban Structure” (06.07) and “Urban Structure – Area Types Differentiated” provide detailed information on the settlement development of the city. Berlin gained more political and economic importance swiftly, especially after the founding of the German Empire in 1871. Settlement therefore developed just as rapidly throughout the various building eras.

The publication “Berliner Pläne 1982-1994” (Berlin plans, only in German, SenStadt 2002) provides another detailed account of Berlin’s building history.

The typical Berlin block development dominated tenement housing, initially only within the area of the Circle Line, which opened in 1877, later well beyond it and in some areas it has up to the present day. From 1853, the ‘Baupolizeiordnung’ (building regulations) laid down the height of buildings for Berlin amongst other things. It set the Berlin eaves height at 22 m, which still applies today in general (the map shows the calculated height of the building’s roof ridge, however). Including the basement, this usually provides space for six to seven storeys in a building.

As a result of this regulation and the fact that the reconstruction after World War II also returned to the previous floor plans and height structures of existing buildings to a great extent, large parts of Berlin’s inner city, even today, display a relatively uniform roofscape.

Approximately 3,400 ha, and thus about 10 % of the Urban and Environmental Information System’s (ISU) residential area types are part of the old building quarters in the inner city. They are directly affected by the eaves height restriction (cf. Map 06.08 “Urban Structure – Area Types Differentiated as well as Figure 4 and Table 1).

Fig. 4: top: Distribution of the block and block-edge development area types (types 1, 2, 3, 7) in Berlin (green circle: location of the area depicted in the photo); bottom: view from the North facing the TV tower / Alexanderplatz along Schönhauser Allee (centre right: Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Stadion (stadium))
Fig. 4: top: Distribution of the block and block-edge development area types (types 1, 2, 3, 7) in Berlin (green circle: location of the area depicted in the photo); bottom: view from the North facing the TV tower / Alexanderplatz along Schönhauser Allee (centre right: Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Stadion (stadium))
Image: Photo: SenSBW, Dirk Laubner

Both in terms of their location and the time of their origin, these old quarters contrast the types of single-family housing estates, as well as row houses and duplexes. Situated predominantly on the outskirts of the city, the latter account for about 45 % of the block (segment) areas that are assigned to area types of residential development and cover an area of about 11,500 ha. Here, buildings with ridge heights of up to about 12 m dominate the settlement pattern (cf. Figure 5 and Table 1).

Fig. 5: top: Distribution of area types 22 “Row houses and duplexes” and 23 “Detached single-family homes with yards” in Berlin (red circle: location of the area depicted in the aerial photograph); bottom: Section of aerial photograph on the southern edge of the city (Lichtenrade suburb)
Fig. 5: top: Distribution of area types 22 “Row houses and duplexes” and 23 “Detached single-family homes with yards” in Berlin (red circle: location of the area depicted in the aerial photograph); bottom: Section of aerial photograph on the southern edge of the city (Lichtenrade suburb)
Image: Aerial photograph: Geoportal Berlin, TrueDOP20RGB – summer flight

In residential development, area type 9, “Large estate with tower high-rise buildings (1960s-1990), 4-11 storeys and more”, contains the highest single buildings. When looking at the area types at an aggregated level of block (segment) areas, however, this is indiscernible, due to the large share of smaller (ancillary) buildings (cf. Table 1).

Although Berlin only has a small number of exposed high-rise buildings compared to other metropo-lises (cf. Figure 6), it does, however, feature Germany’s tallest structure, the TV Tower, at Alex-anderplatz (total height 368 m, recorded shaft height according to LoD2: 253 m).

Fig. 6: Location of completed buildings and structures with a minimum height of 100 m in Berlin, displaying core areas only, due to scale (as of April 7, 2022)
Fig. 6: Location of completed buildings and structures with a minimum height of 100 m in Berlin, displaying core areas only, due to scale (as of April 7, 2022)
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin

The following buildings and building complexes, for example, exceed 100 m in height:

  • Reuter West combined heat and power plant (cf. Figure 7),
  • Bahn Tower and Kollhoff Tower at Potsdamer Platz
  • Potsdamer Platz
  • Ku’damm-Karree-Hochhaus (high-rise building part of the Ku’damm Karree building complex)
  • Treptowers (complex of high-rise buildings in Treptow)
  • Zoofenster and Upper West in City West (two high-rise buildings in the western part of central Berlin) (cf. Figure 8)
  • Park Inn Hotel

as well as the two towers:

  • TV tower at Alexanderplatz and
  • Fernmeldeturm Schäferberg (telecommunications tower atop Schäferberg hill).
Fig. 7: Reuter West combined heat and power plant, view from the south-east, photo taken in 2005
Fig. 7: Reuter West combined heat and power plant, view from the south-east, photo taken in 2005
Image: Partner für Berlin/FTB-Werbefotografie
Fig. 8: “Upper West” and “Zoofenster” high-rise buildings on Breitscheidplatz, 2022
Fig. 8: “Upper West” and “Zoofenster” high-rise buildings on Breitscheidplatz, 2022
Image: Kathrin Schellhardt

Table 1 presents the classification of the mean building heights and additional statistical parameters. It focusses on area types at the level of block (segment) areas, based on the Urban and Environment Information System (ISU). It is striking that even types with large (expected) building heights (e.g. area type 9, “Large estate with tower high-rise buildings (1960s-1990s), 4-11 storeys and more” and area type 29 “Core area”) display an ‘unremarkable’ mean height. This is mainly because individual heights vary greatly, as blocks or block segment areas of these area types contain a large share of low buildings or parts of buildings. The maximum heights of these area types, however, match the expected heights (89 m for type 9 and 123 m single building height for type 29).

Enlarge photo: Tab. 1: Mean building heights and other statistical parameters per area type with structural character (area type mapping as of December 31, 2020, building heights according to LoD2 as of April 6, 2021)
Tab. 1: Mean building heights and other statistical parameters per area type with structural character (area type mapping as of December 31, 2020, building heights according to LoD2 as of April 6, 2021)
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin
1) Only buildings higher than 3.50 m and area types with a building share of more than 10% were taken into account.

The variance, also evident in Table 1, is illustrated by Figure 9 with the help of three examples and their distribution reflected by means and the standard deviation. While the means of the selected area types are almost identical (cf. Table 1), they differ greatly in their variance. For type 1 “Dense block development, closed rear courtyards (1870s-1918), 5-6 storeys”, the respective building heights hover around the mean (smallest standard deviation), while for type 9 “Large estate with tower high-rise buildings (1960s-1990s), 4-11 storeys and more” and for type 29 “Core area”, these are widely scat-tered with a large standard deviation. This indicates that the blocks of these types contain a wide range of different heights.

Enlarge photo: Fig. 9: Statistical distribution of mean building heights of various area types at block (segment) area level (area type mapping as of December 31, 2020, building heights according to LoD2 as of April 6, 2021)
Fig. 9: Statistical distribution of mean building heights of various area types at block (segment) area level (area type mapping as of December 31, 2020, building heights according to LoD2 as of April 6, 2021.)
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin