Redesigning the Leopoldplatz Square

Icons use case study city info



Icons use case study main actors

Main actors

Local Government, City Government, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group

Icons use case study project area

Project area

Neighborhood or district

Icons use case study duration


Ongoing since 2010/05

The redesign and reconstruction of the Leopoldplatz Square took place between 2011 and 2013. The aim of the process was to explore solutions to existing conflicts on the square and to jointly find a way in which all space users would feel comfortable at Leopoldplatz without excluding certain groups.

The Leopoldplatz is a square located in Berlin-Wedding, one of the poorest boroughs in Berlin, characterized by high unemployment and a large migrant community. In response to rising levels of conflict that had increased since 2009 / 2010, a petition and a round table discussion moderated by District representatives was organized. Subsequently, a participation process and an integrated action plan were introduced in 2010. The motto of this process, "History meets cultural diversity - Shaping a place for all", reflected the complexity of the issues facing Leopoldplatz.

The action plan included a structural redesign of Leopoldplatz Square and the organization of many different events involving volunteer workers, such as a Christmas market, the “Fête de la Musique” or Iftar-dinners. The goal was to organize the co-existence of different user groups and not to exclude any of them. Safety, or the perception of safety, could also be improved through cooperation with the borough’s administration and the police. The establishment of a space management team, “Team Leo”, providing mediation services helped to resolve existing conflicts.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
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.

In 2009 citizen protests and petitions demanded the need for change at Leopoldplatz Square. Residents complained about noise levels, roaming dogs, rubbish and increasing drug-related crime threatening community safety. At the first community consultation in 2010 involving more than 250 residents, the participation process was launched.

During the discussions, stakeholders explored solutions to existing conflicts on the square. A key objective was to jointly find a way in which all space users would feel comfortable at Leopoldplatz without excluding certain groups or moving them into other areas of the Berlin city center. At the same time it was agreed, the aesthetics of the square should be improved in order to appeal to new user groups.

This consultation process led to a revised integrated action plan, Ein Platz für alle - Gemeinsam einen Platz für alle gestalten (A place for all – creating together a place for all). The plan required the square management team to assume responsibilities for social work, coordination, communication and mediation.

Community members concerned with drug and alcohol issues, together with drug and alcohol users, were involved in the concept design, negotiation of new rules and defining the social needs for the new space.

The guiding principles of the plan are:

• Residents, families, young people and visitors should feel comfortable on the square

• Addict user groups won’t be displaced

• Drug trafficking has to be addressed.

To improve the quality of life at Leopoldplatz Square, four main areas of action have been identified:

• Cultural revival

• Beautification through redevelopment measures

• Street workers have been employed for a peaceful coexistence of different social groups as well as conflict mediation

• Improved safety

The redesign and reconstruction of the square took place between 2011 and 2013:

20 May 2010: a preparatory workshop was organized with representatives of the administration (representatives of relevant borough offices, the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment, and the police) to confirm the content as well as the legal and financial framework for further developments of the process.

26 May, 2010: a workshop was held with a broad range of representatives, including residents, associations, interest groups, and various public authorities.

22 June, 2010: approximately 100 people participated in a citizens' forum that presented the progress of the plan. Citizens were encouraged to offer criticisms and suggestions which were evaluated by the borough administration and the city planners.

23 / 25 November, 1 / 3 December, 2010: children and young people were given an opportunity to present their ideas to the city planners.

In October 2013, construction work concluded and the square was officially inaugurated in the presence of local residents and other stakeholders involved in the redevelopment process. The space management team were tasked with ensuring the newly designed rules for utilizing the square were correctly observed.

The project received funds from the federal-state program “Aktive Zentren” (Active Centers)

The construction and redevelopment costs amounted to approximately 1.8 mil. €.

The large size of the square (approx. 3.2 ha) allowed the division of Leopoldplatz into different areas. Accordingly, the space in front of the Old Nazareth church was defined as a place for events and markets, and includes a new fountain. Since 2009, a large market operator, who also operates numerous other weekly markets in Berlin, has operated a market with an emphasis on quality and organic products. Since 2012, a public fasting (Iftar) in Ramadan takes place on the Leopoldplatz in front of the Old Nazareth church. The event has the patronage of the Mayor and is open to Muslims and those interested in Islam. In the middle of the square, a newly designed area for families including a playground is planned.

The need for regulatory measures on the Leopoldplatz is still required. Church communities, kindergarten-leaders, residents, citizens and "Team Leo" identified several on-going problems including urinating in the public space, stray dogs and garbage. An increased (weekly) on-site presence of legal authorities (police and administrative officers) is required.

In 2013 as support from the public order decreased, stakeholders developed other preventive measures to avoid the reoccurrence of unacceptable behavior in the square. In the autumn of 2013, a space management team was established to work with the community. Its task was to support the diverse user groups in regulating the space, as outlined in the integrated action plan. The development of practical cooperation between police, the public order office and the space management team assisted in the implementation of regulating the space.

Additionally, social workers from “Team Leo” ensure on-going communication and mediation with substance dependent individuals. Conflicts are addressed directly and negotiated with the user groups through agreements. The aim of mediation is to secure the cooperation and engagement of all stakeholders at Leopoldplatz. 

The equal treatment of all square users is an important principle in the implementation of the newly defined square regulations and has led to positive behavioural changes and peaceful coexistence of the different user groups. Problematic user groups were invited to participate in the planning process and have not been excluded from the square now the renovation process is complete.

Mediation through the space management team is still necessary after completion of the works. Some problems have arisen in the course of the implementation. For example, in regards to waste disposal, additional trash cans were needed to improve cleanliness of the green areas. Self-regulation, supported by the space management team, has proven to be successful.

- Aktiven Stadtzentrums und Sanierungsgebiets Wedding-Müllerstraße. 2016. Leopoldplatz Handlunsgfeld C: Aufwertung von Plätzen und Freiflächen Laufzeit: 2010 bis 2013. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

Aktiven Stadtzentrums und Sanierungsgebiets Wedding-Müllerstraße. 2016. Ziele des Runden Tisches Leopoldplatz. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

Aktiven Stadtzentrums und Sanierungsgebiets Wedding-Müllerstraße. 2016. Bürgerinformationsveranstaltung am 09.12.2010     . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

Aktiven Stadtzentrums und Sanierungsgebiets Wedding-Müllerstraße. 2016. Umgestaltung und Weiterentwicklung des Leopoldplatzes    . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

Landschaftsarchitekt von Bargen. 2016. Landschaftsarchitekt von Bargen. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

Aktiven Stadtzentrums und Sanierungsgebiets Wedding-Müllerstraße. 2015. Ecke Müllerstraße. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

Wikipedia Deutschland. 2016. Leopoldplatz. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

i.A. Gangway e.V. – Straßensozialarbeit in Berlin. 2013. Projektbericht „Soziales Platzmanagement Leopoldplatz“ von September 2012 bis Dezember 2013 und darüber hinaus. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 October 2016].

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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