Defining the future of the community
Berlin is a rapidly growing city, with 300,000 more people expected to be living in the German capital by 2030. Alongside this natural growth, since 2015 Berlin has experienced an unprecedented inflow of refugees, with 80,000 people arriving in the city in less than a year.
The refugee population has been housed in various types of accommodation, but Berlin is not yet an ‘Arrival City’ – a city that is fully prepared for the increase in population. Refugees are often placed in isolated accommodation at the city fringe, preventing them from integrating into local communities.
BuroHappold’s team were tasked with developing a plan for the future of Berlin as part of our Sharing of Skills programme, which seeks to offer assistance to projects that are in need of support with development, without taking a fee. Our project is based on the view that Berlin’s current in-migration, while posing challenges, also offers possibilities for the city if both natural growth and migration are considered in one coherent approach.
We believe that providing suitable housing and infrastructure for refugees should be aligned with current development plans, creating mixed, diverse and vibrant communities with refugee housing and services at the core of the growth areas.
This approach has been tested with a case study to help understand local needs and formulate strategic interventions to meet them. Our case study focused on Berlin-Buch, one of the strategic future growth locations in the city. As a research and technology centre, Buch faces the challenges of economic development, as well as heavy population growth and the integration of refugees in to the community. The study identified growth trajectories for both natural population increase and migration in the area and examined the demands on city and neighborhood scale.
Our team devised a series of interventions that cater for both the new residents and the refugees, focusing on social infrastructure and providing low-cost interventions that are flexible and adaptable to future population growth and migration patterns.
One of our key interventions focused on reusing vacant buildings as a school that caters both for refugees and the new population of Buch, in order to encourage integration and the forming of a community. We also looked at the idea of a temporary library that connects the refugee accommodation with the existing residential area, which in the future can be reused as an education centre.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply