Picture: ©Gerhard Kassner

Picture: ©Gerhard Kassner

Dr. Philipp Bouteiller from Tegel Projekt GmbH

As soon as Tegel Airport closes its doors for the last time, a residential-, research-, and industrial park will be erected here instead, where founders, students, investors, industrialists, artists, and scientists come together with the objective to mutually develop cities of tomorrow - and to live in them.  Philipp Bouteiller, who took over the management of Tegel Projekt GmbH in 2012, is in charge. He is responsible for the largest European city development project of the future city: transforming the inner city Tegel Airport into the largest central hub for urban technologies in Europe.

A future city is planned in Berlin Tegel - how exactly will it look like and how far have you already advanced in respect of the development? Berlin TXL will be one of the most exciting projects in Europe. It turns around the question: How do we want to live? And how does this city of the future look like? How can we save the climate and reduce the consequences? How can we build sustainably and manufacture by handling the resources carefully?  These questions are investigated at the research- and industrial park of the Urban Tech Republic and subsequently tested in practice in our large pilot- and testing facilities. It is here that a new Urban Tech Campus for the Beuth Hochschule is to be built to receive more than 2500 students, with space for about 1000 companies and 20,000 safe workplaces. In the immediate vicinity, the Schumacher Quartier with its approximately 5000 apartments offers living facilities for more than 10,000 people, with schools, day nurseries, market squares, affordable, colourful, innovative and sustainable. There won’t be many cars, but all the more green spaces, bicycle paths, and an exciting mixture of living and working. These are the two unique flagship projects for the future of the city.  

Tegel is to become a living and working area, similar to Silicon Valley in the U.S. Will this area still be affordable for the Berliners?  There will be no property speculations on our state-owned areas. The areas go directly to the users who create workplaces there. The same applies to apartments in the Schumacher-Quartier: Mainly local housing associations and companies orientated towards the common good-will build here and accordingly a large number of the flats will be subsidised. Berlin TXL will become more socially fair, socio-demographically livelier and much better designed than Silicon Valley.  

The plan is to build more than 5000 flats for more than 10,000 people in addition to the 20,000 workplace - flats that the city requires urgently already today, and spaces for start-ups and high-tech companies. Is the start envisaged for 2021 still realistic? We can access the area about six to nine months following the start-up of BER. According to today’s situation this will be in summer 2021 - and I have no reason to doubt this.

Beyond that it is planned to offer Berlin clubs a new home - is that correct? Could one say that you shift the former Berlin Mitte [Centre] towards Tegel with its start-ups, flats, cafés and clubs…? Mitte remains Mitte and something entirely new will be created in Berlin TXL. A club culture and sub cultures cannot really be planned. But one can create opportunities. We include cultural aspects right from the start. This is important as we turn to our younger people who need space and freedom to feel good. This kind of feeling is slowly being lost in some parts of the city. I am very confident that we attract enough creative potential with all the students and start-ups in the Urban Tech Republic, in order to build up something very exciting - away from the urban planning.

What represents the greatest challenge to an urban city? Growth! Not only here, but worldwide. Growth means more people, more traffic, more stress, concentration of living space, and a higher load on the infrastructures.  Due to the technological progress, cities have become cleaner and more liveable. This is why increasingly more people want to live in the centre where so many other people are living, too. And we also feel the consequences in Berlin. Digitalising the infrastructures meaning all that is general described as “Smart City” can help to cushion this pressure by making existing infrastructures more efficient. In areas where new plans are to be set up, mistakes made in the past, can now be avoided. In this respect we do not orientate our planning in the Schumacher-Quartier on cars but on people. We are focussing on cyclists and pedestrians, streets for playing, public areas that can be designed by the local residents themselves. We keep rain water in the quarter, generate a lot of energy, store it and charge car batteries with it in the quarter’s garages. We think about the city from the public space first of all, not from the architectural point of view, build with sustainable materials, produce climate simulations beforehand and adapt plants and the topography to suit the future.  

At the beginning of this year you were awarded the “Top 50 Most Impactful Smart Cities Leader“. What does this award mean for your future work? I was of course very pleased and the award was recognising the good work that our team is performing. We have learned a lot during the past few years and the award will encourage us to carry on fighting for intelligent solutions and not fall back into the old traditional planning mode. In doing this it is important to keep up the exchange with other thinkers and planners in order to discover new developments at an early stage and be able to influence these. Our Berlin voice has gained importance by now.  

And finally: Can you please continue the following sentence: „Berlin is smart because…this green, clean, tolerant, culturally exciting, and still very affordable city has attracted so many fantastic people since the reunification and something very unique has been created. You can’t argue with this - to express it with the highest praise voiced by the Berliners. And for the rest - we will manage that, too…