Building a new Berlin: the changing face of the German capital

Whether it’s new government buildings, newly gentrified communist apartment blocks or completely new housing, Berlin is a city slowly being reborn. Here are the most exciting development projects to look out for in the new Berlin

You only need to catch a glimpse of the city’s skyline, with its ever-growing crop of towering cranes, to know Berlin’s got big plans.

Some of them involve building up – proposals for both the Ortner & Ortner designed and Frank Gehry’s skyscraper reach a dizzying 150 metres. Some involve revamping what’s already there, such as David Chipperfield’s £185 million plan to develop the former Bötzow Brewery near Alexanderplatz. And some involve rebuilding the city altogether.

Perhaps the most high profile development is the Berlin City Palace, the former Prussian and German royal family residence being rebuilt as the Humboldt Forum. The original palace was destroyed in 1950 to make way for the East German Parliament, which in turn was destroyed, somewhat controversially, in 2006. Its next incarnation, to be known as the Humboldt Forum, will house parts of the Humboldt University (hence the name), a library, the city’s non-European collections and a new U-Bahn station, which is due to be completed in 2019.


The reconstruction of the Berlin City Palace is arguably the city’s most high profile development

Even bigger is Europa-City Heidestraße, an entirely new district with plenty of opportunities for investment that’s being created just north of Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof, previously a wasteland between East and West. The new development promises an environmentally conscious mix of residential, commercial and public spaces, as well as a new S-Bahn station and a bridge over the Spandau Canal.

Closing the gap between Wedding and Mitte

And there’s more building going on across the canal. Centered around the new Federal Intelligence Service headquarters on Chausseestraße and the Schwartzkopffstraße U-Bahn station, a mix of new housing and redevelopment is closing the gap between the expensive properties in Mitte and the traditionally working class area of Wedding, both physically and most likely, in terms of price, too.

Unsurprisingly, several of Berlin’s new projects are aimed at attracting the creative industries. The Holzmarkt project is the brain-child of the Cooperative for Urban Creativity, and promises a Spree-side village environment designed to encourage creativity in the capital. Slightly later down the line – and dependent on the closure of Tegel Airport – is the Urban Tech Republic, a forward-looking development aimed at tech companies and universities.

Nonetheless it’s just outside Berlin that you’ll find one of the city’s most intriguing redevelopments: the Nazi Olympic village. Built for the 1936 Games, the complex had been left to rot since the Soviet army’s departure in 1992. Plans have been announced to redevelop the historic complex on a basis that is part residential, part museum, with work beginning in 2018.

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