Berlin TXL will soon be a smart city and hotspot for urban technologies

5 questions to Philipp Bouteiller about the innovative and sustainable redesign of the former Berlin Tegel Airport

In an interview with Prof. Dr. Philipp Bouteiller, CEO Tegel Projekt GmbH

Animation Berlin Tegel with park and lake
Source & Copyright by Tegel Projekt GmbH Atelier Loidl

Author: House of Eden

With the former airport in Berlin Tegel, an area of ​​500 hectares became available. This is now to be transformed into an innovative and smart residential area, as well as an urban research and industrial park. "The Urban Tech Republic" and the "Schumacher Quartier" as well as a 200 hectare landscape area are being built here.

Within the Urban Tech Republic, up to 1.000 large and small companies with 20.000 employees will research, develop and produce, as well as more than 2.500 students of the Beuth University will move into the former terminal building. The technologies developed here are implemented right next door in the Schumacher Quartier. More than 5.000 apartments are planned in what is currently the largest timber construction quarter with advanced solutions for climate-neutral energy supply and a car-free mobility model.

The State of Berlin has commissioned Tegel Projekt GmbH with the development and management of these projects. CEO Prof. Dr. Phillipp Bouteiller is an expert in smart cities and has developed an innovative concept for sustainable urban design with the Berlin Tegel project. In an interview with Haus von Eden, he explains the concept behind the redesign of Berlin Tegel Airport: From the LowEnergy network to Cradle2Crade, local production and research to animal-aided design. A vision for the city of the future.

Prof. Dr. An interview with Philipp Bouteiller

Philipp Bouteiller © Tegel Projekt GmbH by Christian Kielmann

The Urban Tech Republic and the Schumacher Quartier merge living and working in an innovative way, what makes this concept so sustainable?

The interplay of living and working is nothing new. What is special about the Berlin TXL project is, that we have consistently considered the challenges of our time - climate change, demographic change and digitization - from the start and can now implement a whole range of innovative components. The former Tegel Airport is thus becoming a real laboratory for the city of tomorrow.

And the technological basis for this is researched, tested, produced and converted into marketable solutions directly on site in the Urban Tech Republic. Starting with the efficient use of energy, sustainable building, environmentally friendly mobility, recycling and the networked control of systems to clean water and the use of new materials. We want to rethink the “city system” in all its facets and make it fit for the future. The aspiration of sustainability runs like a red thread through our concept.

Animation of the south approach to Berlin Tegel with lots of green space and separate paths for pedestrians, cyclists, trains and cars

Source & Copyright by Tegel Projekt GmbH Atelier Loidl

The Berlin TXL project implements numerous sustainable aspects, which of them do you think should be emphasized?

This is not so easy. It starts with the fact, that we preserve instead of demolishing, that we process materials on site so that they can be recycled directly, that we use building materials that are ecological and potentially infinitely usable. Overall, the topics of circular economy and Cradle2Cradle play a major role in our project. But in the end, it is the interplay of the various project modules that reflect the idea of ​​a city that is ultra-modern and worth living in, while being close to nature and respectfully handling resources.

A LowExergy network of this size, worldwide unique, will provide Berlin TXL with sustainable heating and cooling. With our mobility concept, we are testing, among other things, the car-free quarter and will prove that everyone who lives here can be mobile without restrictions. In addition, the Schumacher Quarter is planned as a sponge city and will become the Berlin reference project for climate-adapted and water-sensitive urban development. We use animal-aided design and have a sophisticated biodiversity concept. As you can see, the sustainability aspect runs throughout the entire project.

Which sustainable initiatives are particularly challenging to implement?

Our plan is challenging, but with enormous potential, to scale timber construction to an industrial level, to significantly reduce its costs through digitized processes and open standards, as well as to help sustainable construction with wood, we will achieve a breakthrough. The effects would be gigantic. City quarters could thus become huge CO2 stores and even have a positive effect on the climate. With more than 5.000 apartments, we are currently planning the largest timber construction quarter in the world. There will be innumerable hurdles on the way there, but the interest and the great willingness to support us in this tough ride - both from business and from politics - gives us a huge incentive. Berlin TXL will also become climate neutral.

Animation of the Berlin Tegel project Quartierplatz

Source & Copyright by Tegel Projekt GmbH Rendertaxi

To many, Smart City sounds isolated and like gray concrete. How is inclusion promoted here with regards to society, but also to nature?

Unfortunately, smart city is a term that is misused far too often for nebulous visions of the future. However, if you take a closer look at the advantages of a digital infrastructure, it quickly becomes clear that it is primarily about simple, intelligent little things that make our lives more comfortable and resource-efficient. For example, data can come from sensors in building ventilation systems, traffic lights, street furniture or charging stations and help to ensure that flowerbeds are watered or e-vehicles are charged as required. Filters ensure good air or through automated lights, the nightly path through the park is always well lit. The possibilities are almost limitless. The protection of data and privacy is always a top priority.

We don't just use sensors to create togetherness in the neighborhood and closeness to nature. The mere fact that we keep the cars out of the center of the quarter creates plenty of space for sport, leisure, games or encounters. We will have green roofs, facades and lots of green open spaces, as well as bodies of water and great biological diversity. Instead of lawns, we rely on colorful butterfly meadows. Instead of parking strips, we have space for appropriation beds where people can garden as they please. We want to show that more nature in the city not only improves the quality of life, but also makes us more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Animation over the entire area of ​​Berlin Tegel

Source & Copyright by Tegel Projekt GmbH Macina

What is the current status quo and when can we expect the go live?

We are eagerly awaiting August 5th, because on this day we will take over the 500 hectare area of ​​the former Tegel Airport and our project can start. First of all, we have to take preparatory measures: We set up the logistics, build construction roads and take care of ordnance and contaminated sites. The civil engineering work for the first construction phases will begin next year - both in the Urban Tech Republic and in the Schumacher Quartier.

According to current planning, the first tenants will be able to move in in 2027. The students at the Berlin University of Technology, which is now still called the Beuth University, will then liven up the new campus in the Urban Tech Republic, surrounded by the offices, workshops and experimental areas of the first companies that will then have their address here. Temporary uses in the existing buildings will start earlier, parallel to the renovation from this year.

Thank you for the interview Prof. Dr. Philipp Bouteiller!

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