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Greater Berlin as we now know it was founded 100 years ago. The city’s 100th anniversary inspired the Berlin-Brandenburg Architectural and Engineering Association [AIV] to curate an exhibition charting its urban development. The exhibition “Unfinished Metropolis: 100 Years of Urban Development for Greater Berlin” doesn’t just examine the city’s history – it looks at its present and future, too. It also presents the results of the International Urban Design Ideas Competition Berlin-Brandenburg 2070, which was launched by AIV back in 2019. The exhibition is accompanied by the Metropolitan Talks – a series of discussions dealing with urban development issues and challenges such as diversifying town centres, green space, transport and housing.

The fifth Metropolitan Talk focused on how to create urgently needed affordable living space in Berlin, a city undergoing constant growth, amid rising building costs and a worsening lack of available land to build on. It also considered how to avoid repeating past mistakes of cookie-cutter housing construction and ensure high architectural and urban development standards. The expert panel consisted of Regula Lüscher, the city of Berlin’s building director, Henrik Thomsen, Deutsche Wohnen CDO, Benita Braun-Feldweg, architect and developer, and Tobias Nöfer, architect and chair of the Berlin-Brandenburg Architectural and Engineering Association [AIV]. The discussion was hosted byJan Lerch from the Kilian Immobilien group.

The panel agreed that Berlin needed to build more housing, faster. They also believed, however, that densification required high architectural standards and proactive planning. Urban development concepts must meet environmental, economic and aesthetic standards to ensure long-term success and win over the public. Henrik Thomsen called for more courage in implementing visionary concepts. The development planning process should not be about competing individual interests, he argued. “It's key we share an understanding that we want to develop our city in a way that strives for high standards of quality, not the lowest common denominator,” he said.

Due to coronavirus, the in-person audience for the live-streamed event was small. Recordings of this and the other Metropolitan Talks are available on the project website.

The exhibition is showing at the Kronprinzenpalais until 3 January 2021. Deutsche Wohnen is one of the partners supporting the project. The company has its roots in GEHAG, an organisation whose history is closely intertwined with the history of Berlin’s urban development. Its portfolio includes four of the six Estates of Berlin Modernism (Siedlungen der Berliner Moderne), which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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