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Open-Space Development 2020

Map Description

A clear trend emerges, when looking at the open-space development over the whole period that has been studied thus far, from “before 1945” (i.e. with all built-up areas of the city as a reference point prior to the war-related destruction) to 2020 (cf. Tab. 2). Between 1945 and 2020, 12 % of the green and open spaces within the municipal area (10,645 hectares) were consumed for construction purposes in Berlin. Comparably very few formerly built-up areas or traffic areas were converted into open space, however, during the same period (0.7 % of the municipal area, 660 hectares). The open-space losses predominately affected areas outside the City Rail Circle Line of the city, and were frequently achieved at the expense of farmland, allotment gardens and fallow areas.

Enlarge photo: Tab. 2: Open space losses and gains in Berlin since 1945 (as of December 31 of each year
Tab. 2: Open space losses and gains in Berlin since 1945 (as of December 31 of each year
Image: ) according to Environmental Atlas 06.03, Statistical Office for Berlin-Brandenburg 2020a

Individual gains in open space, mostly due to the impacts of war and the subsequent and division-related decommissioning of large railway facilities, are predominantly found in the inner city. Some of these areas, which initially lay fallow for decades, were later converted into parks, such as the Görlitzer Park, the parks at Gleisdreieck or the Mauerpark.

The extensive consumption of hitherto non-built-up areas in East Berlin after World War II began approx. twenty years later than in West Berlin. In West Berlin, most open spaces were built up between 1950 and 1970, while in East Berlin, this occurred during the 1970s and 1980s. These differences in urban development reflected the political division of the city after World War II (cf. also Environmental Atlas Map “Building Age in Residential Development” (06.12) SenStadtWohn 2018).

At the end of the war, approx. 30 % of all buildings had been totally destroyed or seriously damaged. The districts of Mitte and Tiergarten were the most strongly affected; there, this concerned more than 50 % of all buildings; in Friedrichshain, it was 45 %. Initially, the economic situation in both the Soviet and the western sectors restricted building activity largely to repair. After the end of the blockade in 1949, West Berlin was able to profit from US economic aid under the Berlin construction programme. By contrast, East Germany and East Berlin were additionally burdened by reparation confiscations and dismantling.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the urban-development strategy of the West Berlin (re-)construction programme consisted in the separation of municipal functions and the relief of urban centres from dense construction. In the inner city,either areas cleared of rubble were rebuilt, sometimes with generously spaced buildings (for example, in the Otto-Suhr-Siedlung west of Moritzplatz), or open spaces that had previously been used as allotments or for other purposes were built on for housing development projects (Schillerhöhe in Wedding). In terms of existing housing, many blocks were extensively de-cored, demolished and rebuilt. New housing estates were also built, however, on formerly built-up areas destroyed during the war, e.g. the Hansaviertel in Tiergarten as part of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) in 1957.

On the outskirts of the city, meanwhile, the construction of the first larger housing estates (e.g. on former farmland and allotment garden areas at Falkenhagener Feld) and new commercial districts had begun on former open spaces.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the well-known large housing estates were built on the outskirts of Berlin. Examples were the satellite towns Gropiusstadt in Neukölln and Märkisches Viertel in Reinickendorf.

During the 1970s, construction activity was concentrated on the revitalisation of the inner city.

During the 1980s, when the demand for living space had essentially been met, construction activity was in general confined to small fallow areas which were, for instance, built up in the context of the International Building Exhibition in 1984-87. Only rarely did any major consumption of open space occur. New industrial and commercial areas were established in Ruhleben, Marienfelde, and west of Neuköllnische Allee.

The few areas built up after 1990 involved compact residential areas on former ruderal and allotment-garden areas in Spandau, Steglitz, Rudow and Reinickendorf, as well as the buildings around Potsdamer Platz.

As a reaction to an increasing apartment vacancy rate, construction of multi-storey residential buildings declined sharply after 2000; in many plans for urban expansion and utilisation-change of areas, plans for such buildings were cancelled. A few new apartment buildings can be found in Frohnau, Buckow, Dahlem, Lichterfelde West and Altglienicke. Single-family housing moved into the foreground. The Regierungsviertel (government quarter) was completed. In line with the requirements of the Planwerk Innenstadt (inner city plan) and its updated version Planwerk Innere Stadt (interior city plan, SenStadt 1011), the development of the inner city was a clear priority. Less than 10 % of land consumption was allotted to urban expansion (e. g. in the former Diplomatenviertel (Diplomats’ quarter), the new building of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Germany (BND) at Chausseestraße between Potsdamer Platz and Pariser Platz). Since its low in 2006, residential construction has been on the rise again (SenStadtUm 2011).
Increased land consumption also occurred for reasons other than the construction of housing, for large-scale retail and traffic projects, such as the A 100 motorway in the extension from Gradestraße in Neukölln.

In East Berlin, the reconstruction of the city proceeded only slowly. During the 1950s, the most important industrial plants and utilities were brought back into operation, and residential buildings that could be fixed were provisionally restored, but there was hardly any concerted construction of new residential buildings. The only important project was the construction of the buildings on Stalin-Allee (today Karl-Marx-Allee) at the beginning of the 1950s in the context of the National Construction Programme, the counterpart to the West Berlin construction programme.

Only during the 1960s, after the construction of the Wall and the industrialisation of the East Berlin construction industry, did the reconstruction of the city centre begin. The goal was the fundamental restructuring of the city centre. The old tenement apartments were to give way to new buildings. The extensive demolition plans failed however, because of the difficult economic conditions and because of the existing housing shortage. At first, the areas along Unter den Linden and Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, around Alexanderplatz, and along Karl-Marx-Allee up to Frankfurter Allee, heavily destroyed during the war, were rebuilt. New construction then continued in the Fischerkiez (the southern part of the main Spree Island), and along Leipziger Straße.

The reconstruction of the city centre during the 1960s did not lead to any major loss of open space. However, the concentration on restructuring the city centre led to the neglect of new housing construction. Discontent with the living situation increased among the East Berlin population. As a result, the housing programme was proclaimed as the main emphasis of the social program in 1971. The goal was the elimination of the housing shortage through the construction of new apartment buildings and through the rehabilitation of the old buildings in the city centre, which had until then been neglected. During the 1970s and 1980s, large satellite towns were built on formerly open space by means of industrial prefabricated construction, with an immense mobilisation of labour from all over East Germany. New boroughs were established: Marzahn in 1976, Hohenschönhausen in 1979 and Hellersdorf in 1980. Other, albeit considerably smaller, residential estates were built along the entire periphery of East Berlin through 1990.

The large development areas of Marzahn, Hohenschönhausen and Hellersdorf arose to a large extent on the former sewage fields of Malchow and Hellersdorf which were closed down in 1968-1969. Near-natural areas along streams such as the Wuhle or Nordgraben were not built up, since the underground was not suitable for construction. However, smaller near-natural areas, such as pools, were often filled in and built upon.

In new residential areas or large housing estates on large contiguous open spaces, some small, isolated green spaces of no recreational or free-time value were sometimes left behind. One example is the construction carried out during the 1970s and 1980s in Lichtenberg, between Rummelsburger Straße and Saganer Straße. All that remained here of this large, formerly horticulturally or agriculturally used area was a narrow strip of parkland and a little green space.

The expansion of industrial and commercial areas also contributed to loss of open space. The losses in the Rhinstraße/ Gehrenseestraße/ Hohenschönhauser Straße area, along Märkische Allee, and along the motorway in Pankow were particularly high.

For the development of the city as a whole, post reunification, the following picture emerges:

After 1990, a few concrete-plate blocks which had already been planned or started were completed in Hohenschönhausen and Marzahn. The largest residential areas were built in the urban-expansion areas certified under the 1994 Land-Use Plan (FNP 94) in Buchholz and Karow-Nord.

In the decade 2000-2010, new residential areas were built primarily in
Falkenberg, Biesdorf-Süd, Buchholz, Wartenberg and in Adlershof.

Overall, during the first two decades after reunification, 85 % of urban development in Berlin took place within the body of the city, while only 15 % extended beyond it (SenStadtUm 2011).

Areas that have been newly developed since 2010 are distributed across the entire urban area, although they tend to be more located on the outskirts and in the East of the city. New development is now no longer represented by large new housing estates, as was the case in the 1970s and 1980s, which is also evident from the average size of open space loss. New development now involves smaller, scattered areas. Up until 1990, the average size of newly built-up areas was about 7 ha. It has since dropped to a value of 1.9 ha in the decade between 2010 and 2020.

Larger construction projects from the decade between 2010 and 2020 include the residential and commercial buildings in Adlershof, the Europacity development project and new commercial buildings around Berlin Central Station and the extensions of single-family housing estates, e.g. in Gatow, along the Oberhavel river, in Biesdorf and Haselhorst. A residential project is currently under construction in Rummelsburger Bucht (bay on the Spree).

Comparing the totals of the last three decades (from 1990) reveals a clear increase of open space loss. For the decade between 1990 and 2000, a total open space loss of 512 ha was determined based on this map. The total loss of the current decade is 82 % higher (936 ha, cf. Table 2).

Finally, it should be noted that the monitoring of this map c*annot record and balance the small-scale losses* of vegetation-covered areas, as they are often located inside or at the edge of residential and commercial areas. In the case of retrospective densification and additions to existing buildings, these areas often fall below the lower threshold of 1 ha of the geometric basis of the Urban and Environment Information System (ISU), meaning that these losses cannot be taken into account. “Land consumption” is therefore not the same as an increase in impervious soil coverage. The two terms describe distinct processes and are also considered separately in the environmental policy discourse. While land consumption, in short, describes the increase of the area used predominantly for construction or residential purposes, the exact composition of impervious and pervious areas of these use categories is disregarded in this map. There is a separate Environmental Atlas Map dedicated to mapping the impervious soil coverage.

Area statistics by borough

Percentages of open space gains and losses since 1945 and of the inventory of open spaces

Figure 2 presents the distribution of open space gains and losses and of the inventory of open spaces in percent for the 12 boroughs of Berlin. All figures are sorted according to the borough numbering system based on the Verwaltungsgliederung (administrative division) of Berlin. At first glance, it is evident that the inner city boroughs of “Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg” and “Mitte” have the lowest shares of green space (< 20 %). In contrast, the shares of open space gains are higher here compared to those of the outer boroughs (Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg with 4.6 %, Mitte with 1.6 %). These are due to gains based on a small number of areas that are large in size, however, and that were previously used by the railway particularly in the inner-city area (e.g. the former railway stations “Görlitzer Bahnhof” in Kreuzberg and “Lehrter Stadtbahnhof” in Mitte). In order to put this information into perspective, however, the percentages provided must always be considered in relation to the absolute area size of the boroughs (as labelled on the bars). For example, although the open space gain has the highest percentage in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg (4.6 %), the absolute size of the open space gained (94 ha) is significantly lower here than the area of the open space gained in Berlin’s largest borough, i.e. Treptow-Köpenick (156 ha, cf. Figure 3). The 156 ha recorded for Treptow-Köpenick, however, represent an open space gain of only 0.9 % of the total borough area, which is 16,773 ha.

With more than 20 percent, the loss of open space is particularly high in the outer boroughs in the East of the city (Marzahn-Hellersdorf with 28.5 %, Lichtenberg with 21.4 % and Neukölln with 26 %).

Enlarge photo: Fig. 2: Area shares (in %) of the inventory of open spaces and the open space gains and losses of Berlin and its 12 boroughs
Fig. 2: Area shares (in %) of the inventory of open spaces and the open space gains and losses of Berlin and its 12 boroughs
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin

The absolute area sizes presented here reveal that the boroughs, which have the largest total areas and which are located outside the City Rail Circle Line, are also the boroughs that feature the largest inventory of open spaces (Figure 3). Their shares of forest areas play a major role here: in Reinickendorf (Tegeler Forst) 53.9 % of the green and open spaces are forest areas, in Treptow-Köpenick (Köpenicker Forst) it is 76.6 %, in Pankow (Bucher Forst) 21 %, in Steglitz-Zehlendorf (Grunewald, Düppeler Forst) 63.8 %, in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (Grunewald) 57.2 % and in Spandau (Spandauer Forst) 43.8 %.

Enlarge photo: Fig. 3: Absolute sizes of the inventory of open spaces and the open space gains and losses of Berlin’s 12 boroughs
Fig. 3: Absolute sizes of the inventory of open spaces and the open space gains and losses of Berlin’s 12 boroughs
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin

Open space losses by borough

In the following two figures, the open space loss is presented by borough (as area shares (in %) in Figure 4 and absolute area sizes in Figure 5 for each time period.

Enlarge photo: Fig. 4: Area shares (in %) of open space loss for various time periods in relation to the total area of open space loss of Berlin and its 12 boroughs
Fig. 4: Area shares (in %) of open space loss for various time periods in relation to the total area of open space loss of Berlin and its 12 boroughs
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin
Enlarge photo: Fig. 5: Absolute area sizes of open space loss for various time periods of Berlin’s 12 boroughs
Fig. 5: Absolute area sizes of open space loss for various time periods of Berlin’s 12 boroughs
Image: Umweltatlas Berlin

The loss of open space up to 1970 is most evident in the boroughs of the former West of the city. In absolute terms, the largest areas that were built-up are located in the boroughs of Spandau, Reinickendorf and Neukölln. From 1970-1990, large-scale construction projects were implemented primarily in the boroughs of the former East of the city. This applies in particular to the boroughs of Marzahn-Hellersdorf, Lichtenberg, Treptow-Köpenick and Pankow.

Since reunification in 1990, Berlin’s overall open space loss has dropped considerably compared to the previous decades, displaying a clear upward trend, however, when considering the entire 30-year period (cf. Table 2). The distribution of the absolute numbers underlines both these statements (cf. Figure 5). In addition to the characteristics of the boroughs, both the percentages and the absolute numbers need to be taken into account for a comprehensive assessment. When comparing the two boroughs Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Treptow-Köpenick, which differ greatly in their location in the city and their area size, this becomes apparent. In Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, an inner city borough, a rather small absolute open space loss of 37 ha since 1990 is mirrored very clearly by the total share of loss of 73.2 %. These numbers represent large commercial and industrial areas along the railway line between Ostkreuz and Warschauer Strasse as well as the residential development at Gleisdreieck. In Treptow-Köpenick, in contrast, a considerably lower share of loss of about 38.7 %, recorded between the years 1990 and 2020, translates into a considerably higher total area of 370 ha of former open spaces that are now being used for construction. The extensions of the WISTA Science and Technology Park in Adlershof and a large-scale commercial, industrial and logistics site in Bohnsdorf in the reach of BER Airport may serve as examples here.

Overall, larger areas tended to be developed in the outer boroughs than in the inner boroughs, as more land was available there. It has already been noted that any loss of open space due to retrospective densification cannot be represented here because of the 1 ha limit.