The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a turning point in the planning history of Germany’s capital and largest city, Berlin. The first land use plan for the whole city of Berlin was developed in 1996 and at the end of 1990s separate urban development plans about housing, centers and production were prepared. 

At the beginning of 2000s there was the idea to make an integrated approach to the urban planning at the strategic level where the emphasis was put on broad levels of participation in the planning process. In 2004 the first Urban Development Concept 2020 was prepared, but the Senate of Berlin’s full commitment couldn’t be reached at all levels and the plan couldn’t be implemented. 

Since mid-2000s, Berlin’s population started to grow continuously due to the increasing employment opportunities especially in cultural and creative sectors, education opportunities, cheap housing and workplaces. In response to these developments in the beginning of 2010s new urban development plans about housing, centers, transportation, production and climate were developed. These plans formed the basis of the BerlinStrategie: Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 that was approved by the Senate of Berlin in 2014.

Between the years 2015-16 due to the increase in the number of refugees and immigrants in Berlin, an update in the plans was made and BerlinStrategie 2.0 was created.

In recent years Berlin’s economy is growing rapidly with new companies, businesses and start-ups moving to Berlin especially in creative and technology industries, which has led to an increase in housing and rental prices. The housing stock has become already scarce due to the population increase and there is a growing need for the provision of public services. Because of all these changes, today a new update and BerlinStrategie 3.0 is being prepared.

As Vision 2050 team we had a conversation about Berlin's strategic plan history and experiences with Elke Plate and Thorsten Tonndorf from Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development. In our meeting, these points were underlined:

  • In Urban Development Concept Berlin 2030 initially six basic qualities of Berlin were determined such as being a caring, inclusive and socially responsible global city, a place for everyone to explore their creativity, green and compact city, an innovative economic and scientific hub and a dynamic capital with global reach. Grounding on these qualities and as an answer to the question “What does Berlin want?” eight strategies were developed for realizing the city’s middle and long term goals. Moreover, ten transformation areas in the city were selected where these strategies are going to be applied.
  • Due to the emphasis put on spatial analysis the city’s spatially strong and weak areas, potentials and risks were identified. Spatial analyses were conducted on for bacis levels: economic development, social integration, cultural diversity and the quality of life and environment.
  • During the whole planning process it is ensured that academicians, civil society organizations and related groups participate. However, they faced difficulties for securing Berliners participation as the plan’s strategies and goals stayed on a more abstract level. For ensuring the city dwellers’ participation they realized that special methods and techniques are required. In this respect they organized city forums about different themes and discussed with Berliners about these topics and identified prioritized problem areas.
  • For identifying the transformation areas they organized eleven meetings in 2014 where politicians and public administrators participated. During these meetings different groups and actors protested the decisions. These protests were seen as an influential participation method and the articulated criticisms in the protests were also taken into the decision making process.
  • In Germany there are rigid regulations about the ecological effects of urban development projects. Hence, ruling parties in Berlin develop planning strategies that affect the environment and ecology based on these regulations.
  • They convey the future vision and an open-minded city concept of Berlin with different visuals in the city. In these visuals they picture different topics together such as urban mobility, housing problem, energy adequacy provided with wind energy, different cultures living together, young and old generations sharing same environments.
  • Currently they work on identifying a concept that represents the city of Berlin as a whole in the participation process. For the future vision they focus on three main topics: economic power, participation-solidarity processes and the quality of life.
  • Art works were carried out in 2013 with by-then 13-year-old children and children who will be 30 years old in 2030, in which they told their future visions. Information about the BerlinStrategy project was added to the school textbooks in Berlin.