Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz area is to be turned into an appealing, forward-thinking urban quarter with upscale streets and squares, combined with public spaces that are designed to engender an enticing environment for living and working. Acting together with Schulze+Grassov, Bartenbach GmbH, Stefan Wallmann Landschaftsarchitekten, Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl, and other partners, Behnisch Architekten conducted a series of studies to examine ways of strengthening the identity of this previously undefined quarter. The idea was to explore the untapped potentials of its public spaces and pinpoint areas where improvements are possible. The planning area comprises Alte Potsdamer Strasse, Marlene-Dietrich-Platz, Eichhornstrasse, parts of Linkstrasse, and the side streets leading to the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden shopping mall.
The current situation
In the mid-1990s, following German Reunification, the area around Potsdamer Platz was developed on the basis of contemporary criteria as a place to live, work, and shop. Today, the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden shopping mall and other attractions make it a popular destination for tourists. By modern standards, this relatively inchoate area has a number of shortcomings in terms of its architecture, landscaping, and urban planning strategies. Studies conducted in advance of the planning process delineated an urban setting that is primarily touristic in character. Meanwhile, people living and working in the quarter generally do not identify with the area and make little use of its open spaces. Thus, rather than featuring the hustle and bustle of public life, the area around Potsdamer Platz is characterized by predominantly stationary vehicular traffic. This is not what is expected of an urban setting of this type.
The quality of the public space here is negatively affected by the lifeless facades at ground level, the mix of constantly moving automobile and pedestrian traffic in Alte Potsdamer Strasse, the design of Marlene-Dietrich-Platz, and the dividing line created by Linkstrasse. Over and above this, the width of Alte Potsdamer Strasse and the lackluster transition to Potsdamer Platz were also deemed problematic.
Goals and planning strategies
By redeveloping the area and upgrading the quality of the urban space, planners hope to breathe new life into the quarter and give it a unique identity. The core strategy is to create an area that will better reflect the needs of its inhabitants, while prioritizing pedestrian traffic and strengthening existing neighborhoods. The plan is to establish a forty-hectare interconnected network of public spaces with barrier-free streets and squares as well as traffic-free areas and pedestrian zones. High-end restaurants enjoying prime locations and offering outdoor service, combined with non-commercial areas for sitting and relaxing, will provide attractive meeting places for residents and workers and act as an interesting destination for visitors. The result will be unique location and a new neighborhood that can play an active role in the life of the city, thus enhancing its public profile.