[Translate to en:] © Pahl-Weber

Elke Pahl-Weber of the institute for urban and regional planning of TU Berlin

She is reasearching in the field of urban development and is co-responsible for the development of the Smart City Sie forscht im Bereich der Stadtplanung und des Städtebaus und ist mitverantwortlich für den Aufbau des 'Smart City' competence centre together with professor Bunschoten since 2013.  Professor Elke Pahl-Weber is well versed in the issues of mega cities and knows how important a good Smart City strategy is for the future. 

What is the highest goal in urban planning of a smart city? Urban planning in a smart city and for the smart city is aiming at the adaption to the requirement, which is supposed to be implemented for the sustainable design of living spaces.

And where to begin? It’s possible to begin on all kind of levels with the urban planning of a smart city. The best adaption to the requirements can be seen in the quarters. 

What responsibility does an urban planner of Berlin have und what challenges are ahead of him? First of all, an urban planner of Berlin is an urban planner, who works in Berlin, whether it is in the administration, in companies or as a freelancer. An urban planner of Berlin is also someone, who is trained in Berlin and works in different places all over the world now. As a professor who is part of their education, I’m really glad to meet a growing amount of engaged people. Those, who work in Berlin and for Berlin are facing tremendous challenges to accomplish a sustainable and smart urban development. There’s not only the production of housing, especially within the affordable segment, mobility, which is unifying the different activities and is creating sustainable and livable conditions in the quarters, a shift to an alternative energy supply and – hardly in the field of view yet –  sustainable energy consumption and obviously an interconnection with energy, water and waste management. From my point of view, a connection of everyone working on it, should be one of the most urgent duties, which other cities in Germany are already expediently engaged to.

What are you currently researching at the TU Smart City platform? The TU Smart City platform is an interdisciplinary institution. At the faculties are a number of projects, to which the Einstein Center Digital Future has been added, which is researching a lot of projects as well. In my field of work, I am coordinating, together with my academic staff, projects as joint projects, which are interdisciplinary but also including private companies, as well as intermediary organisations. At the moment these include:

  • Migrants4Cities, funded within the BMBF research field transformation of cities; cooperation with inter3, Berlin and 
  • Distribut-e, green supply chains on the last mile oft he neighbourhood; joint project with extramural and TU research partners, companies, district office of Charlottenburg and a number of representatives from pilot quarter, Pilotort Mierrendorfinsel and Klausener Platz
  • Smart Climate Cities, in cooperation with the German Society for International Cooperation, the German Institute for Urban Studies, NIUA (National Institute for Urban Affairs, India) in behalf of  BMU and BMI, companionship of the process oft he Smart City developments in India, pilot cities Bubaneshwar, Coimbatore, Kochi
  • A study about urbanisation tendencies with a focus on housing for Siemens, which we just completed and the publication just took place.  (Marcus Jeutner, Florian Hutterer, Elke Pahl-Weber, Globale Urbanisierungstrends und Zukunft des Wohnens/Global urbanization trends and the future of habitation; Universitätsverlag der TU Berlin, 2019, http://dx.doi.org/10.14279/depositonce-8110).

Climate change and diminishing resources are major issues for big and mega cities worldwide, is a “Smart City” able to solve these problems? The majority of people is living in cities and the urbanisation tendencies are continuing. As documented in the report of the WBGU about the transformation of the cities, cities have the power of transformation. Furthermore, climate change and resource protection need a stronger local planning and networking. 

Do you think, that politics should intervene more severe to curb climate change? To me, it’s less a question of severity than a question of manner on how decisions are made and an integrated strategy. And again networking is a magic word, everybody is talking about crossdepartmental approaches, but to practice them is a Herculean task, not just for politics.

What role does the individual citizen play at the development of a Smart City? Citizens are part of the space within Smart City is developing. They are constitutively important for the development of sustainable strategies. Therefore, tools and procedures are needed, which evolve from classical participation to cooperation, where new business concepts arise and everybody involved is taking responsibility, as far as they can and want to. In my field of work and across faculties, we create the method of urban design thinking, which is based on cooperation in urban development processes. It is practiced in all above research projects. 

Are there Smart Cities you see as a role model for Berlin? Regarding mobility, I see Copenhagen as a role model. Regarding administrative action it’s Amsterdam, these cities might be smaller, but they are capital and urban centre as well.

Are there best practices in Berlin, you consider useful and innovative? I only pick two, but there are far more approaches: The transformation of Tegel into a future-oriented location, though it is dependant of the development of the airport, it is a best practice for a sustainable location development between science, industry and culture. 

As a jury chairman, I was involved in the urban development competition for “Gartenfeld”. Here is a smart and future-oriented quarter in development, which is good enough to be a best practice for the development of new big locations in berlin. 

Which advantages and strengths does Berlin have? Berlin is a very diverse place with many different spaces, this is appealing to many citizens. Berlin is a science location and got an euphoric mood not at least because of its many students. 

How would the ideal city of the future look like to you? It would be a city, in which cohesion (social cohesion) is practiced, without destroying the natural resources. A city, in which everybody can be proud of, how they’ll leave it to the next generation. 

Could you please finish the following sentence “Berlin smart, because… 

…the city is diverse and thousands of approaches for a sustainable urban development are being practiced.