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The Urban Tech Republic; The Urban Tech Republic;

The Urban Tech Republic, Berlin

Berlin’s Tegel airport to become a launchpad for urban tech

Berlin’s decommissioned airport at Tegel will become an urban tech launchpad under current proposals to redesign the space. The Federal Government and the State of Berlin are redeveloping Tegel as a living urban laboratory, and an experimental hub for research and businesses that could shape the cities of the future. The plans re-imagine the former inner-city airport as a testing ground for new mobility concepts, energy sources and materials, as well as novel approaches to recycling and water management.

In collaboration with Transsolar, EPEA, PCH and GRAFT Brandlab, we have developed a concept on behalf of the Tegel Projekt GmbH that puts sustainability and innovation firmly at the top of the agenda. Set out over more than 200 hectares, The Urban Tech Republic will bring together start-ups, academic research institutions and industry leaders, creating a tech ecosystem that fosters collaboration.

Once decommissioned, part of the existing airport facilities such as terminal buildings and hangars will be repurposed, while plans will also include the delivery of around 5,000 new homes.

Horizon scanning: developing a sustainable vision for The Urban Tech Republic

Boasting an unrivalled location only 15 minutes from the centre of the city, The Urban Tech Republic will be a place where ideas take flight. Under our cities advisory service, Arup’s Foresight team held a range of workshops and meetings to help the client develop a sustainable vision for the area. The team distilled some key themes around green infrastructure, urban water management and the use of digital technologies among others.

The Tegel airport will become a living urban laboratory, and an experimental hub for research and businesses. © Tegel Projekt GmbH | GRAFT Architekten

Green infrastructure fosters healthier living

Green infrastructure is the articulating tenet for this vision of The Urban Tech Republic, intended to improve air quality and reduce noise pollution, significantly boasting quality of life and overall wellbeing in the district. Supporting the principles of sourcing locally, the plan envisions urban orchards that could supply food to retailers and offices in the area.

Circular economy principles underpin this smart hub

As a lab for new approaches to city living, circular economy principles were high on the agenda, with materials being a key focus. The vision looks at buildings as ‘material banks’ to maximise the re-using and recycling of materials while reducing construction and demolition-related waste. By integrating the use of innovative ‘digital twins’ – a dynamic building that feeds performance data back to an identical digital model to track performance – together with virtual material passports to enabling the tracking and repurposing of a piece of material in a way that it expands its entire lifecycle.

The tech hub will be serviced by a resilient – and possibly self-sufficient- infrastructure framework, including a decentralised energy supply network as well as a sustainable waste management system. The water management will be designed to recover nutrients from the water cycle through a decentralised treatment of wastewater streams.

This unique collaboration enabled us to accelerate sustainable and digital urban innovation and inspire cities around the world to improve the life of people. ”

Portrait of Martin Pauli, Head of Foresight Consulting at Arup in Germany Martin Pauli Director Talk to Martin

Digital lifeblood: a connected environment to optimise user experience

From the micro all the way to a macro level, digital technologies will enable a smart, more efficient operation of The Urban Tech Republic while significantly improving user experience. Buildings will be upgraded to optimise energy use, while a set of apps will enable improved wayfinding and mobility within the campus.

The drive to create an energy-efficient, environmentally friendly tech hub has won the project a platinum DGNB sustainability pre-certificate, the first ever commercial quarter to receive this award. The certification was particularly evaluating the site’s infrastructure and location concepts, including among others the handling of energy, water and waste. DGNB – German Sustainable Building Council – is a non-profit association for the promotion of sustainable construction and operation of the built environment.