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How to combine cultural heritage protection with climate and sustainability strategies

This course unit presents sustainable urban renewal strategies in quarters of historical and cultural significance. It showcases how urban renewal and development can happen within the existing stock of buildings which either keep their original function (e.g. housing), or are converted for new functions (e.g. formerly administrative buildings). The intention is to preserve history while preparing them for a more resource efficient, resilient and carbon-neutral future. The unit discusses interdependencies of ecological urban renewal and cultural heritage. It showcases both, “High Culture” as much as “Daily Life Culture”, the latter shaping behaviors of people and identities of places, thus being an important potential to increase awareness for ecological transformation.

1) Welcome Length: 6 min

In the WELCOME session, GIZ, Markus Delfs, Head of Cluster Sustainable Transition, and Cao Handuo, Technical Advisor, GIZ Beijing, introduce the contextual background. Dr. Daniel Krahl delivers a welcome message by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The INTRODUCTION SESSION explains the overall course approach and its elements. It also contains a Thematic Course Introduction key noteCultural Heritage and Sustainable Urban Renewal’ that provides background information and summarises training messages. Both are provided by the lead training advisor and course host, Monika Zimmermann.

3) Thematic City Video Length: 22 min

The THEMATIC CITY VIDEOS are an informational and inspirational form of knowledge input based on the voices of experts, and illustrated by various projects. In its endeavour to investigate the role of heritage in urban renewal, the THEMATIC CITY VIDEO illustrates the different dimensions of heritage in the urban context and their role in urban renewal. 

A handout with project profiles offers additional technical information.

See underlined download link below.

Lead Expert: Dr Eduard Kögel, independent Senior Advisor and architectural and urban studies scholar; Associate Researcher at the Technical University of Berlin’s Habitat Unit; Curator of ‘World Architects’, the ‘Aedes Network Campus Berlin’, and ‘’; member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of Chinese Architectural History, Qinghua University Beijing; graduate of the University of Kassel, Germany, Department of Urban and Landscape Planning Studie; doctorate in Architectural History, Bauhaus-University, Weimar.

Museum Island – Renewal of the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Museumsinsel’ & ‘Flussbad Berlin’ (River Bath Berlin)

The Museum Island and all its buildings are being restored based on a masterplan and developed into a future-oriented museum complex integrating new structures. It is estimated that the master plan will be fully implemented in 2021. The Museum Island is one of the most visited sights of the German capital and one of the most important museum-complexes in Europe. The Flussbad Berlin will be developed in the direct neighbourhood to the Museum Island. It is a not for profit association aiming to develop an outdoor swimming area along Museum Island, reviving the Spree Canal in the heart of Berlin while facilitating its eco-friendly sanitation.

 Interviewee: Jan Edler, Founder and CEO of Flussbad Berlin Initiative 

House of Statistics, Berlin & the Cooperative for Urban Development ZUsammenKUNFT Berlin eG

Renewal of a former GDR-building complex in central Berlin and its transformation into a multipurpose space developed for the well-being of the general public. The project is innovative for its cooperative between the government and a number of actors that have built the so called Koop5. It is also one of the largest transformation projects of a former administrative building in Berlin and it recently won the federal award for cooperative urban development. It is expected to become the location for Berlin’s new town hall in the future. 

Interviewee: Felix Marlow, Member of the Cooperative for Urban Development ZUsammenKUNFT Berlin eG, House of Statistics 

Märkisches Viertel (Social Housing Estate), Berlin

The “Märkische Viertel” is a large satellite town, in the northern outskirts of Berlin. It is an example for a successful sustainable renewal of existing neighborhoods:  From 2008 to 2015 it got energetically renovated, becoming one of the largest low energy settlements in Europe. Various modernization and social infrastructure measures were implemented, leading to a significantly increased residential and living quality.

Interviewee: Dr Eduard Kögel  (also see Expert Talk with Georg Unger, Technical Director of GESOBAU in the Expert Talk session)

  • Manfred Kühne, Director of Division II of the Senate Administration for Urban Development, City of Berlin 
  • Elke Pahl-Weber, BSc Eng, Professor of Urban Planning, Technical University Berlin
  • Reiner Nagel, Chief Executive Officer, Federal Foundation for the Culture of Building 
  • Andrea Klinge, Architect at ZRS Architects

4) City Walk Video Length: 6 min

The CITY WALK offers an immersive city experience related to the course topic.

The City Walk “Urban Renewal and Cultural Heritage: From Museums Island to Former Breweries” takes place in Berlin along former industrial buildings inc. the “Kulturbrauerei” and “Am Pfefferberg”, former breweries which are today hubs for cultural activities, innovative design, and alternative housing. Thus Industrial architecture meets modern urban culture. To what extent can site-specific features like heritage sites be preserved, ecologically renewed and correspond to the current tendencies within a heterogeneous urban society?

5) Expert Talks Length: 135 min

he EXPERT TALKS session provides the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of the course content. The expert talks – all recorded in April and May 2021 – include PPT-supported lectures and an interview.

Eduard Kögel, PhD, Architecture and Urban Studies Lecturer, Independent Senior Advisor

Georg Unger, Director Technical Department, GESOBAU AG

Dipl.-Ing Elke Pahl-Weber, Professor of Urban Planning, Technical University of Berlin: Urban Planning- System Terms and Urban Renewal in Germany

Ping Kong, PhD, urban planner, UNESCO World Heritage Advisor, Founder of Heritage & Education Consulting GmbH, Berlin

Dipl. Ing- Christa Reicher, Professor for Urban Design, RWTH Aachen University

6) Transfer & Application Length: 20-45 min

This element includes questions for participants to help them review and evaluate the information provided so far, consider takeaways and reflect on possible transferability. The questionnaire can be completed individually or as part of guided teamwork.

7) Further Resources

This compilation of background information, studies, reports, websites, videos, etc. lets participants find out more about selected themes related to the course topic. Whenever available, materials are provided in English – otherwise in German. The Project Profiles relating to the THEMATIC CITY VIDEO (see above), as well as a few other key documents, are included in full.