Berlin’s Manifold Strategies Towards Commercial and Industrial Spaces: The Different Cases of Zukunftsorte

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Berlin’s Manifold Strategies Towards Commercial and Industrial Spaces: The Different Cases of Zukunftsorte


  • Lech Suwala Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Technical University of Berlin, Germany / Department of Geography, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
  • Robert Kitzmann Department of Geography, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
  • Elmar Kulke Department of Geography, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany


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Abstract:  Despite being the third largest industrial agglomeration in the world before World War II, Berlin was faced with an economic void after the partition and reunification of the city with many abandoned and alienated commercial and industrial spaces in a compact urban fabric. What has happened with this commercial and industrial heritage over the last 30 years? The main rationale behind this article is to show how Berlin planned and developed some of these spaces through the Zukunftsorte strategy by preserving its historical sites and modernizing its commercial and industrial base. As part of this undertaking, the article combines insights from urban planning and regional innovation studies. Methodologically, a two-step approach is applied: First, the article conducts an analysis of fundamental planning frameworks and technology/innovation policy trajectories with regard to commercial and industrial spaces; second, a multiple-case study analysis of selected Zukunftsorte (Adlershof, Marzahn, Schöneberg, Siemensstadt) is carried out to test whether and to what extent those spaces are supported by planning frameworks and exhibit components of what we coined territorial ecosystem models. The data compiled stems from 15 years of work engaging in various planning and policy steering committees, individual or joint research projects, personal interviews with relevant stakeholders, and regular field observations. The findings suggest that Berlin’s strategies towards commercial and industrial spaces need to integrate highly contextual approaches since size, progress, operation, means, and timelines of Zukunftsorte vary substantially. Whereas Adlershof is a well-functioning network of business, academia, planners, and policymakers with preliminary attempts to embed those stakeholders in residential neighborhoods and the European Energy Forum in Schöneberg—which can be described as a miniature living lab of Adlershof—the other investigated Zukunftsorte do not yet deserve to carry this name.

Keywords:  Berlin; commercial and industrial planning; technology and innovation policies; territorial ecosystem models; territorial innovation models; Zukunftsorte strategy

Published:   23 September 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i3.4239


© Lech Suwala, Robert Kitzmann, Elmar Kulke. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.