Ready For Take-Off: The Urban Tech Republic
The former city airport Tegel is now one of Europe’s largest and most ambitious urban development projects.
Rethinking the concept of “city” and reconciling city and nature – this is one of the basic tenets of Berlin TXL. In one of Europe’s largest and most ambitious urban development projects, the five square kilometers (that’s 1,236 acres) of former airport have been divided into areas that comprise a vision of the city of tomorrow.
Heart of it all is the Urban Tech Republic, over 200 hectares of commercial zone, campus, and research and industry park for urban technologies. Urban Tech Republic has room for over 1000 businesses, green industries, projects of all sizes, and space for workshops, labs, and production. There are showrooms, conference rooms, hotel rooms, as well as offices and co-working spaces.
Developing Solutions – From Research to Production in the Urban Tech Republic
Urbanization is a global phenomenon. Within 30 years, it is likely that 70% of the world’s population will be living on 3% of the earth’s surface. The goal of the Urban Tech Republic is to provide development facilities for fields such as mobility, energy, water, materials, recycling, and ICT – all the urban technologies required to make the cities of the future livable.
Urban Tech Republic is a startup center, conference and trade fair center, technology center, and social hub. It is an ecosystem of science, research, start-ups and established companies. Institutes of higher education, science-based production companies, and service providers in urban technologies find their home here, especially in the following fields:
- Traffic technology and mobility
- Energy and environmental technology
- IT and automation
- Microsystems and materials
First anchor users of the Urban Tech Republic include the Berlin Fire and Rescue Service Academy, with a training facility in one of the hangars, and the BHT, the Berlin university of applied sciences, with around 2,500 students from the competence cluster urban technologies settling in what used to be Terminal A. It is estimated that up to 5000 students will eventually populate the new “city within the city”, half of them from the BHT, which has moved into the iconic main building with 13 degree programs from the field of urban tech.
Other Urban Tech Republic tenants include:
- Vay Technologies – leading driverless mobility company
- EasyMile – autonomous transport solutions
- HH2E – green hydrogen and electricity production
- Motor AI – software for autonomous driving
- EnerKite – wind turbines for renewable power generation
- Green Urban Energy – sustainable heating and cooling systems
- Solyco Solar – solar systems and modules
- WINT Design Lab – design laboratory for sustainable and innovative products
- Maschinenfabrik Reinhausen – components and systems for power distribution networks
The idea is to gather all the players and stakeholders, including investors, into an innovation-friendly community at Urban Tech Republic. To this end, Berlin TXL management company Tegel Projekt employs 89 people, whose job it is to make the move to the new area easy. Its benefits are many, not least that there is direct access to the motorway. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the city center and the seat of the Federal Government, and half an hour to the new BER airport.
Leasing has begun of commercial and industrial plots of 3,000 to 200,000 sq m. See the brochure here.
Living In The City – A New Quarter
Right next to the Urban Tech Republic, the smart, car-free residential neighborhood Schumacher Quarter is the largest timber construction development in the world, with more than 5,000 apartments as well as daycare centers, schools, shopping, sports and youth facilities being built for more than 10,000 people. Housing will be predominantly rental apartments (a good third subsidized), also cooperatives and private building groups, and 10% will be student accommodation. There will also be retail and services, as well as around 30 hectares of public green spaces, playgrounds, and public squares. Roofs and façades will be as green as the many green open spaces. Water areas and biodiversity are integrated, the whole quarter having been planned according to principles such as “sponge city” or with the use of animal-aided design to increase biodiversity in the neighborhood.
A further 4,000 homes are planned for the neighboring districts of Cité Pasteur and TXL Nord.
Adjacent to these attractive residential areas is a bit of nature in the form of an ecological reserve and recreational area, the “Tegeler Stadtheide”.
Where Better to Start a Pilot Project than at an Airport?
The entire Berlin TXL development concept is climate neutral and environmentally friendly, with sustainable construction, energy, heating and cooling, and water treatment and management.
Building the entire innovation park sustainably is the heart of the concept. The campus, for example, has held a Platinum Certificate from the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) since 2016, as the world’s first pre-certified commercial district. Furthermore, the project FUTR HUT, is a new innovation scaling climate-friendly timber construction to an industrial level, likely to achieve significant cost advantages in the medium term compared to conventional construction.
Energy, for example, will be used and supplied by “prosumers”, who both consume and produce electricity.
Urban data will be integrated into the FUrban Tech Republic HUB for smart environmental monitoring, traffic and energy and rainwater management, as well as intelligent control systems for technical infrastructure and the processes for facility management.
Berlin TXL believes green cities have the potential to be climate positive, which is why the development is a major project for the energy transition as well as a center researching potential answers to climate change.
For Berlin, “back to nature” does not mean a step backwards. With for instance intelligent irrigation, integration of flora and fauna into the cityscape, and urban farming, there need be no contradiction between city and nature.
Want to move to Urban Tech Republic? Contact the team here.
Interested in participating in the construction of Berlin TXL? Here are the procurement procedures and calls for tenders.
Text: Olaf Bryan Wielk, ideenmanufaktur
Header image: © Tegel Projekt GmbH | GRAFT Architekten