Move Urban

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Main actors

City Government, National Government, Research Institutes / Universities

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

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Ongoing since 2018/07

Move Urban develops transferable recommendations for integrated mobility concepts for residential estates

The use of space-efficient mobility concepts when developing new residential quarters in cities can make a significant contribution to solving problems associated with urban expansion. The Urban Move project will develop and test concepts in a real-world laboratory in Berlin.  The intended outcome of the project is that these concepts will provide a serious alternative to traditional forms of private motorized transport, relieve pressure on existing transport infrastructure and achieve cost benefits without neglecting individuals’ mobility needs.

This project has been chosen by the city of Berlin to be peer-reviewed in the frame of the Sustainable Cities Collaboratory:

Sustainable Development Goals

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Berlin, Germany

Size and population development
The population registered for the municipality of Berlin in 2017 was 3,613,500, making it the second most populous city in the European Union. The larger metropolitan area has around 5 million people living in 1,347 square kilometres, giving it a population density of around 15,000 people per square kilometre—similar to Mexico City or Tokyo.

Population composition
It has been estimated that up to 30 percent of Berlin’ s population are of foreign origin. The foreigners originate from other parts of Europe—such as Serbia, Croatia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Italian—as well as from countries outside of Europe, such as Turkey, Palestine, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Ghana. The largest non-native population comes from Turkey; in the year of 2010, there were more than 100,000 Turkish registered as inhabitants of Berlin.

Main functions
Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany, as well as one of the nation’s 16 states. It is situated approximately 112 miles (180 km) south of the Baltic Sea and lies in the wide glacial valley of the Spree River, which runs through the centre of the city. The city extends over an area of 891.7 square kilometres and stands at an average altitude of 34 meters above sea level. After the reunification of the two Berlins in 1990, Germany began a process to centralize the capital to Berlin (replacing Bonn, the former capital of West Germany). Since then, Berlin is the place where the German House of Representatives and the German Bundestag hold elections. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that the Bundestag and the government of Berlin were fully established under the same roof. Berlin is also a city of great cultural significance, which is evident if one considers the amount of historical landmarks that tie the city’s history to its multiple overlapping pasts. Some of the most important landmarks include the Holocaust memorial (inaugurated in 2003), remnants of the Berlin Wall (taken down on the 9th of November 1989), the Reichstag Building (which dates to 1884). As the capital of Germany, Europe’s most populous and economically powerful country, Berlin is also the centre of, culture, politics, media and science in the country and serves as a European hub for air and rail traffic.

Main industries / business
As the 4th largest economy of the world, Germany participates of a wide array of industries with a famous efficiency. In Berlin one may find strong state-owned enterprises, like the Deustche Bahn (the railway), which employs the largest amount of general population (more than 20,000 people). Other companies that thrive in Berlin are: the Deustche Post (DHL), the technology company Siemens, the automotive manufacturer BMW, and the telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom. Hence, one may assume that Berlin specializes in the secondary and tertiary sectors of economy. Tourism brings more than 135 million visitors to the city (which include day-time visitors as well as overnight ones). Apart from other student cities in Germany like Köln and Munich, Berlin houses some of the most well-reputed universities in the world: the Freire Universität Berlin and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, with more than 30,000 students each.

Sources for city budget
Berlin draws its budget for public expenditure largely from taxes, transfers received, fees, fines, and operating revenues. This money is federally approved and spent in such a way that it can also be used in the form of funding for companies, not only to comply with the provision of quality public services.

Political structure
Berlin serves both as a city with a local government and as capital of Germany. In regard to the latter, it houses the Bundesregierung (Federal government), the Bundestag (Federal parliament) and the Bundesrat (the States’ chamber of Parliament). Each of the 16 states of Germany has representation in Berlin. It is governed by the Berlin Senate which is comprised of 10 senators and the Governing Mayor. Also, the embassies of other countries from around the world are housed in the city. The 16 states (Laender) have a similar standing to the federal government in respect to most issues.

Administrative structure
Berlin is administrated by the Senate and its 12 districts or boroughs. The Senate is the city’s central administration, in charge of city planning, public policy, and regulation of public and private spheres. The district administrations decentralize some public functions, with reasonable difference between the various localities.

Berlin is a growing city. It is expected that the population of Germany’s capital will increase by 7.5 % by 2030, reaching 3.8 million inhabitants. While the city’s dynamic development is generally reviewed positively, it also provides challenges. Significant pressure on the housing market gives rise to the claim that affordable and appropriate housing has to be available for every citizen now and in the future. Mobility planning needs to embrace the diverse needs of a growing number of inhabitants and commuters and simultaneously services and health care have to be prepared for the additional population. The City of Berlin’s Senate has pro-actively responded to the growth of the city. The Urban Development Concept 2030 has been updated and identifies ten places of transformation where the residential developments are concentrated. The plan’s objective is to develop and implement integrated approaches, which take into account the various challenges identified.

The key aim of the Move Urban project is to investigate institutional, legal and operational issues and their impact on each other in the living laboratory “Waterkant” (part of the new-build area called Wasserstadt Spandau) in Berlin. The recommended actions for the living laboratory will be examined to assess their general transferability, with the overall aim of being able to make statements of general validity. The project will focus on the mobility of individuals and also commercial transport and local logistics.

As part of the project, political decision-makers, local administrators, key actors in the residential property and mobility sectors as well as members of the public will be provided with fundamental and systematic information about the organizational and legal factors involved in the design of space-efficient mobility concepts. The goal is to develop transferable recommendations for integrated mobility concepts for residential estates. Such concepts should be able to ensure the provision of high-quality mobility against the background of expanding cities and growing shortages of space.

This inter-disciplinary project brings together people with skills in the fields of politics, urban planning, law and social sciences. The project’s inter-disciplinary nature will be ensured by its links with actual planning measures, topic-specific workshops and an advisory committee of relevant practitioners to monitor the progress of the project.

The lead agencies for the project are The Federal Ministry for Education and Research and FONA (Research for Sustainable Development).

Space-efficient mobility measures, such as car and bike sharing or mobility hubs, are not new. However, knowledge regarding how these mobility measures operate in new residential areas and the extent to which they are transferrable to different situations is limited. Specifically, what needs to be investigated is the relationship between supply, demand and the regulatory control of mobility services, and the impacts that can be anticipated. There is also a lack of clarity around factors that are specific to an individual location, e.g. the modal split that is typical of specific population groups, the geographical location such as the distance between the residential development and the nearest public transport stop.

There are also structural challenges when it comes to planning and implementing transport access to new-build residential estates. Firstly, the timescales involved in planning and building residential estates are very different from those necessary for creating efficient rail or tram links. Ideally, effective public transport links are already established before the first tenants move in. However, it is frequently the case, as can be seen in this project, that new-builds are completed much earlier than transport infrastructure and there is a great danger that during this time residents will establish car-oriented behaviours. Consequently, it is necessary to have alternative mobility services and measures that can be implemented at short notice as a substitute for private-car ownership. In this regard, there is not yet sufficient data available of the specific institutional, legal and operational implications of putting such measures into practice.

Gewobag Wohnungsbau-Aktiengesellschaft Berlin, WBM Wohnungsbaugesellschaft Berlin-Mitte mbH: Waterkant Berlin: A new urban quarter: The project. Berlin, 2018. URL:

External links / documents

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Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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