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Blankenburger Süden: Making a City for the 21st and 22nd Century

Climate Sensitive Urban Development Framework for Berlin's Largest Urban Expansion Area


Europe and Northern America




Urban Design and Public Space

Project Details


  • Berlin (Germany)


  • Competition
  • Commission


  • B+B Urbanism and Landscape Architecture
  • Zebralog GmbH
  • Burgdorf Stadt
  • DSK



Berlin is growing

Therefore, the Senate of Berlin has designated new development areas to create 135,000 new apartments. Among these, Blankenburger Süden in northern Berlin stands as one such area.

Besides providing living spaces, we contemplate the design regarding climate change and the shifts in mobility modes. As well as the qualities and challenges of the existing context and the Berlin urban context should also be taken into account.

The planning framework follows clear rules. They reflect on building development, landscape, land use, connection, and hierarchies of spaces, while considering higher density at centres, differentiated spaces in core area along the tram boulevard, openness and small-scale development toward landscape, as well as mixes of typologies and functions in the industrial area.

Project site area

Feasibility Study: Stimulating a Discourse on the Future of the Area

Blankenburger Süden is at the beginning of a long development process. Our initial role was to undergo preparatory investigations of various development alternatives and the potential of the area to give people as intuitive a perception of the area as possible.

Project site area

Competition: Framework Plan for Blankenburger Süden

A competition was later held for the the future development of the 160 ha area between Blankenburg and Heinersdorf.

In cooperation with B+B Urbanism & Landscape Architecture, TSPA submitted a Framework Plan for Blankenburger Süden.


The framework plan follows clear rules that take into account the context – development, landscape, use, connections – and hierarchy of spaces. It suggests higher densities at the centres, with the differentiated core area along the tram boulevard, while and openness and small scale towards the border with a landscape. The area is divided into four sub quarters, which are linked via a green public transport axis, where public and local supply facilities are located. Four quarters with distinguished identity, as well as two new school locations, and a production focus in the west, which sensibly interlinks learning, business, green spaces, and living, was created.

Six Goals that Guides Our Proposal

Our proposal is based on the six goals that our proposal aims to achieve: Nature takes precedence, building resilience to climate change, creating community, creating flexible and adaptable typologies, promoting diversity for peaceful coexistence, creating urban density and sustainable mobility for a better quality of life.

The six goals in which the framework is grounded

Goal 1 – Nature Comes First

Green spaces, from very small to very large, are an integral part of the urban structure.

Integration into Existing Landscape

We base our planning concept on the existing landscape, including the openness of the Malchow floodplain, the urban oasis of allotment gardens, the wetlands of the Panketal, two flowing ditches, the layout of former sewage fields, and existing rows of trees and water bodies.

Typical to the neighbourhood elements such as green rooftops, gardens, courtyards, food gardens, playgrounds, and open spaces created the backbone of the concept. Additionally, overarching landscape connections and parks contribute to a feeling of vastness and cohesion within the area.

Living Together with Flora and Fauna

Nature is always in sight and on foot and can be actively and diversely reached and experienced; biodiversity is integrated on all scales. The preservation of natural areas is made possible by strategically placed higher building densities. They serve as recreational areas and ensure a high quality of life for the residents.

Strong Network of Green Links

We create a strong network of green links at the different hierarchical levels of the neighbourhood by planting thousands of trees and kilometres of hedges and bushes. The network consists of a diverse system of green “lines” and “zones” to create a robust urban nature. Animals use these green corridors to wander, move, hide and nest. Newly created tree avenues in an east-west direction create additional environmental and recreational corridors. Differentiatedly planted flowering tree avenues in a north-south direction give the neighbourhood seasonal variety. Green spaces close to residential areas fit into this network and are characterised by their leisure facilities and park-like vegetation.

Green management

Green for All Creatures

The exclusive planting of indigenous species creates a link to the existing surrounding green spaces and strengthens biodiversity. Flowering plant species and mixed hedges stimulate the insect and bird population and create a system of ecological niches of various sizes from small (green roofs) to extra large (park fields) for a wide range of plant and animal species. The existing biotope areas will be preserved and extended and will become part of the green zone of the urban park close to the settlement, but will not be fully developed, but will be developed as ecological zones where humans are guests.

Goal 2 – Building resilience to climate change

Preservation and promotion of biodiversity and sustainable water management.

Climate resilience goes beyond ecology: building materials and layout, walking and mobility systems, energy, and water management. The south of Blankenburg is developed almost without sealing, green spaces follow the wind direction, the boulevard in the centre serves as a public transport axis as well as for water absorption, we preserve and promote biodiversity and integrate wind and biodiversity corridors.

Sustainable Water Use

The existing water system will be sustainably expanded and supplemented to form a system. Water is temporarily collected on roofs and recycled. Neighbourhoods and streets are kept as green as possible, along the roads trough infiltrate water into the soil, or drain into the park zones during heavy rainfall. The tram axis is designed as a sponge road, which is predominantly green and permeable. This relieves the sewage system at peak times and cools the air on warm summer days. Higher situated drier areas and lower situated humid zones contribute to biodiversity.

The visualisation of these processes raises awareness for sustainable water use. On the eastern side of the area, we are creating a climate corridor that will supply the urban area with cold air and create a park with allotment gardens and leisure facilities for the neighbourhood. By planting thousands of trees, hedges and other plants, CO2 is bound.

Topography and water network
Water management designs

Goal 3 – Creating community

Early involvement of stakeholders and clearly defined public spaces.

Active Exchange

The squares, gardens and rooms of our concept are on a human scale and can be openly appropriated, making water and nature come alive in a green urban landscape. Clearly defined centres, short distances, attractive public spaces, and sports grounds and playgrounds provide for encounters and identity. This creates community and togetherness.

Creation of a Neighbourhood

Own cultivated areas in and on roofs are linked to local markets and restaurants, energy is produced and stored locally. This is how material cycles are created. The creation of neighbourhoods is also carried out step by step with the early involvement of the stakeholders, so that joint neighbourhood management is organically created. Social and utility facilities are built in front of the residential units, where cooperative building is particularly important.

Goal 4&5 – Creating flexible and adaptable typologies, promoting diversity for peaceful coexistence

Room for experiments and continued growth in the future.

We cannot predict the future, but we must lay the foundations today so that the city can continue to develop sustainably in the future. Therefore, our proposal is a framework and not a master plan. It deliberately leaves room for experiments and does not lay down everything so that the South of Blankenburg can continue to develop in the future.

The already existing diversity of the inhabitant structure in Blankenburger Süden is a strength that we are expanding and bringing to the fore: offers such as the new centres, schools and day-care centres will be placed in such a way that they benefit current and future residents. Different typologies with small and large apartments, varied densities and characters of the neighbourhood give this diversity room to develop: for all fellow citizens of our society.

Block design

The mixed-use areas, which are well served by public transport, have a high typological diversity and flexibility, while the decentralised, not significantly disturbing commercial enterprises contribute to this mix. The building densities follow the guidelines of the procedure.

Zoom-in of the masterplan

Digital Urbanism

During the project process, various digital tools were tested in order to optimise the design considerations and better support decision-making. With Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, we developed a digital tool to better evaluate different development scenarios of density and typologies.

Parametric design tool.

Goal 6 – Urban density and sustainable mobility for a better quality of life

We see density as a means of creating affordable living space and ensuring quality of life and nature.

Higher densities at selected points in the district in line with a strong mobility concept allow green spaces to be kept free and public spaces of high quality to be created and financed.

The road and traffic concept largely provides for shared spaces that can be easily adapted to various future forms of mobility. Mobility and logistics hubs reduce traffic in the area and its surroundings.

The residential areas will be developed in a north-south direction by meandering residential roads (30km/h) which reduce through traffic. Residential roads in east-west direction for cyclists, pedestrians, fire brigade, and delivery traffic additionally open up the neighbourhood and connect it to the surrounding area.

Urban aspects

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