New model from Berlin: "skyscrapers are an attractive proposition from an ecological point of view" – political

Mr. Sauerbruch, you build skyscrapers around the world: what models do you meet? How do you organize the new Berlin mission statement?
It is more of a European concern to think about the role and location of skyscrapers in the structure of the city. In non-European countries, this is further regulated by building rules – distance rules, height rules, lighting rights, zoning plans. The mission statements stem from a city-space approach and this is understandable because skyscrapers are highly visible and dominant in the urban space. Higher, more. Therefore, it makes sense in the lower city of Europe to wonder where to place the skyscrapers. Especially if you do not have many yet.

Is Berlin, given the price of land, even ripe for residential high-rise buildings?
If we had sat here thirty years ago, we would have said: high residential buildings are out of the question. Because of West Berlin – Christiane F. reminded me of the station's zoo – high-rise residential buildings had a very bad reputation. There were all kinds of educational and sociological studies on the number of children suffering from this type of construction. This has changed a lot and has something to do with the fact that we have more than 50% of unique households in Berlin. Lifestyle care and mobility have changed a lot and in many cases the skyscraper is very well adapted. Residential skyscrapers are now more popular than you thought at the time. A skyscraper in the middle with an exceptional environment is of course something different from a skyscraper in the countryside. The mix of uses is relatively new in Berlin: that in the pedestal area, public or cultural uses and apartments or offices are already relatively normal, but that you are almost a part of home – that's a bit unusual and also not easy. As groups of users have to be separated, for example, by different elevator systems, everything becomes more complicated.

In public perception, high-rise buildings are perceived as unwelcoming places, where they are sometimes antisocial and anonymous. Are these attributions related to cultures, societies or rather to building designs?
I think it 's more specific experiences. In our latitudes, this type of building was associated with the construction of mass housing after the war. They were mainly single dwellings, often social housing, and are therefore associated with skyscrapers and certain population groups. In the GDR, we know that the particularly high towers of city centers, such as Fischerinsel / Leipziger Straße, were privileged places of residence. They were popular and people quarreled about these apartments.

Skyscrapers are expensive. They must either become very high, to remain profitable in Germany because of the regulation of construction, such as fire protection, etc., or remain below 60 meters in height. Should not we be thinking of an increase in the development of the existing peripheral block at Berlin's central interchange points, as did your colleague Karl Theo Brenner with his "Stadt Hoch Drei" concept?

Skyscrapers are expensive. They must either become very high, to remain profitable in Germany because of the regulation of construction, such as fire protection, etc., or remain below 60 meters in height. Should not we be thinking of an increase in the development of the existing peripheral block at Berlin's central interchange points, as did your colleague Karl Theo Brenner with his "Stadt Hoch Drei" concept?

We find that in other parts of the world, high-rise buildings are surrounded by lower buildings, which can create new neighborhoods. An example is the project that your colleague Eike Becker wants to implement in Tehran. In Berlin, but missing in the S-Bahn ring for the place. How to create references to the immediate neighborhood going beyond the architectural language? Will ask: Does a high-rise model help if sites that have their own footprints and uses are not involved at all?

That places are not named in the mission statement, I already have a lot of sympathy. Because this would have consequences on the real estate market, is clear. Between the lines are already indicated the eligible areas …

Oh yes! Where are they?
In Munich, it was clearly stated that public transit was a guideline. The higher the density of public transport, the more likely it is that a high-rise tower will be approved. So preferably where several lines meet. Alexanderplatz is the first example.

Unfortunately, architects can not build their own world. Builders sometimes not. They depend on investors and space, but also on financing and returns. Many small apartments in a small space are better than the big ones. A skyscraper devoid of large common areas or garden floors, as in Asia, will probably be more profitable than the image of a vertical city with a market and an observatory on the roof or the roof. image of a vertical landscape transformed into reality. In short: should not we just say goodbye to the skyscraper based on our experiences? Do you see positive redefinitions of the concept of skyscrapers, which need to be deepened?

There are already many interesting buildings around the world where the uses are varied. The WOHA architects of Singapore have demonstrated this fantastic social housing. There are buildings over 100 m high that are interrupted by a garden terrace every nine floors and it works. You can imagine something like that that was packed in Berlin.

You must also see the skyscraper in relation to the entire cityscape. The discussion is also here, because we have a housing emergency and we ask ourselves, where do we build the 20,000 apartments to be created each year? The idea of ​​densification is obvious – wherever there are gaps in the city center. It is not just about sealing the soil and preserving the surrounding agricultural and recreational areas. It is also possible to effectively use the existing supply and transport infrastructure. Basically, the two things must not be deeply changed if, for example, in the Hansaviertel or around Karl-Marx-Allee, new structures are created in the remaining spaces. A skyscraper is sometimes a good idea: they have a small "footprint" and can accommodate a large amount of housing high. The Hansaviertel offers many interesting examples. The apartments are absolutely popular.

The architect Matthias Sauerbruch is an architect, urban planner and university professor.Photo: Kalle Koponen

What contribution could skyscrapers make in the future if we think about climate change?
In itself, it can not be said that the skyscraper is the most climate-friendly building type. But you can also do a lot here to reduce your carbon footprint. But seeing skyscrapers in the general context of the city makes it an attractive proposition from an ecological point of view. The city remains compact and infrastructure and energy costs are significantly reduced. In addition, open spaces remain inside and outside the city.

Suppose you have your hands totally free: you would not have to take into account the skyscraper model of the Senate Urban Development Department or the commercial aspects of the real estate market: what does your ideal skyscraper look like in Berlin, where is he and what is he doing? ?

Ha! I am a guy from the city and I imagine a skyscraper in the middle …

… in the Tiergarten?

No, rather on the Spree, somewhere in Mitte, where you have a lot around you. Where is culture and life? Where is something going? I would build a nice big terrace and high ceilings, then I would do something loftartiges. Where I am flexible, spaces can be divided. I would like to do something that has a lot to do with light. Of course, he should not heat up. A terrace that you can do the winter garden in cold weather – I would already move there.

Where in the world and with which project are you closest to your ideals?
the Woha's architects made some very significant suggestions – with shared terraces. The skyscrapers of Woha in Singapore do not have air conditioning but are ventilated. It works very well. It is never very windy and there are beautiful outdoor areas, very idyllic and very urban.

What would be transferable to Berlin?
In Berlin, you have to protect yourself from the wind, with a sort of balcony that can be unfolded. Greening of the facade is also going on in Berlin. The plants must be able to survive in the winter – the climate of this country is unstable. But it works: it is of course elaborate, it must be planned and arranged.