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Designing Smart Cities: Creative Ideas for Urban Challenges

Wintersemester 2017/18: Approaches to urban co-production for housing projects in Berlin

In the fifth year of the interdisciplinary Designing Smart Cities projects, the step from the development of products to the development of procedures was dared.

No large construction site without information pavilion, no planning process without public consultation, workshops and online dialogue. The collaboration with interest groups, affected residents and the housing sector is key to sustainable neighbourhood development. Nevertheless, citizens often protest. Especially in the case of larger housing and urban development projects, their protests are directed both, against the content of the planned measures and against the planning and decision-making procedures. Critical citizens and initiatives often perceive participation offers as pseudo-democratic. Or, as the example of the former Tempelhof Airport shows, fundamental differences about the new development of urban areas can hardly be ruled out by extensive participation procedures. Other examples clarify that sometimes the staying power and commitment of all parties is missing; however, this is necessary for lasting success.

Urban co-production is an approach that goes beyond traditional ‘consultation’ or ‘participation’ in urban planning. Not only do local residents and users of the space have to have their say; they must have a decisive input on developments in their neighbourhood. But how can this interaction of residents with urban practitioners be organized effectively? At the moment, there is a lack of understanding on the minimum requirements or quality criteria for participation or even co-production procedures.

This year, in light of the great challenge of 'citizen participation' in urban development, we had made the development of a planning process a challenge. We assumed that the efficient process of the common development of a planning concept and – in the case of already advanced projects – the inclusion of neighbours needed to be linked to an interaction of all engaged stakeholders. The objective was therefore to draft a process of co-production.


How could we design processes of urban co-production that go beyond traditional ‘participation’ or ‘consultation’?

Four project-specific work groups (Gartenfeld, Lichtenrade, Wedding and Neukölln) undertook various challenges related to urban participation processes, especially in the field of housing development projects.

In an area like Gartenfeld where there was insufficient knowledge about future users, this task - which had to be solved by the students - was thus particularly challenging.


For this project, our partners were the UTB Projektmanagement GmbH of Thomas Bestgen and further private partners gained through his company such as Eva Weiss and Andrea Eicholz, managing director of BUWOG Westendpark Development GmbH, as well as Till Degenhardt, executive board member of Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Am Ostseeplatz eG, who continuously supports us through an active cooperation. At the same time, Lukas Born, member of the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing, has contributed to this project as a contact person regarding the development of guidelines for participation in Berlin.

We thank all private and public partners for their support!


In all four projects, formats and strategies have been created that promote opportunities for participation and effective participation for citizens. Thus, no concrete spatial "product" is the result of the work process, but there are different proposals for procedures and participation processes that create a long-term coproduction in the neighbourhood.Although the approaches have been developed specifically for each project area, there are points of references for transfer to other areas.

Further information

You may find further information in the brochure, on the overview poster or the detailed group poster.

Zusatzinformationen / Extras

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