The Schöneberg Loop
Through the so-called “Schöneberg Loop” (Schöneberger Schleife), Berlin is striving to expand the network of different urban spaces located in the area of "Südkreuz". Designed as a green trail, the Schöneberg Loop creates a eco-friendly corridor connecting the south of Berlin with the city centre.
The area located around the Südkreuz station in Berlin is characterized by many transport axes that isolate the adjacent residential and industrial zones from their direct environment. The aim of the Schöneberg Loop is to better connect the different neighborhoods situated in that area through the construction of additional foot, bicycle and skater paths that form an east-west corridor. The project also strives to improve the accessibility of the Südkreuz-neighborhoods to existing green areas in the city such as the “Park am Gleisdreieck”, the “Schöneberger Südgelände” and the “Tempelhofer Feld”. The construction of a new bike path directly linking the Südkreuz-area to the “Potsdamer Platz”, one of Berlin’s most important hubs, the new north-south corridor will also improve the accessibility to the city centre. Additionally, it will help complete an important section of the national Berlin-Leipzig bicycle track.
The Schöneberg Loop will improve the living environment of Berlin residents and facilitate the access to green areas and outdoor leisure activities. The project fosters the inclusion of existing green spaces in their urban context and includes the development of new ones. Through compensation measures, the private sector has been asked to co-finance the construction of some infrastructure and social facilities. The Schöneberg Loop has been largely financed by the national program “Stadtumbau West” (“Urban Restructuring in West Germany”).
Background and objectives
Located in the south of Berlin, the Südkreuz-area is very well connected in an urban and regional context. However, the internal connections between the different parts constituting that area were considered insufficient at the beginning of the urban renewal plans. Moreover, the connection to Berlin’s centre was only satisfactory using the public transport system. In order to reduce insularity in the Südkreuz-area, an overarching development strategy has been planned.
The Schöneberger Loop has been developed as the central project for connecting urban spaces in the area of Südkreuz. It forms a path network composed of green, sport and playground areas that link the Schöneberger island with the rest of the city to create an east-west and a north-south green corridor. The Schöneberg Loop forms a path connecting the “Südgelände” and “Gleisdreieck” parks up to Potsdamer Platz and provides access to additional green spaces for the neighboring residential areas.
Since 2009, as part of the Schöneberg Loop project, Grün Berlin (a non-profit and state-owned organisation) has been working with the districts of Tempelhof-Schöneberg and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and with the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment on various projects dedicated to parks and green spaces. Many areas were former Reichsbahn (the former German railway transport company) terrains that had been partly abandoned since the war. Since species-rich habitats have emerged, it has been decided to leave most of the area largely as it was found.
The main projects of the Schöneberg Loop include:
1) North-South green corridor: South section from O-W Spange to Bhf. Südkreuz (2010-2012)
The first project of the Schöneberg loop was a 450 meter long pathway along the S-Bahn line 2 in the south. The road is now part of the cycle route Berlin - Leipzig.
2) Alfred-Lion-Brücke (2010-2012)
Neu-Tempelhof, a neighbourhood in Berlin, is separated by large railway facilities from the Schöneberger island opposite. A pedestrian and cycle bridge built in 2012 now connects the two districts. This bridge is at the heart of the east-west green corridor and both local residents and walking and cycling visitors benefit from the barrier-free connection.
3) Wannsee railway green corridor (2015-2016)
The Wannsee railway green corridor is located in a densely populated urban area of Schöneberg between the Julius-Leber-Brücke and Yorckstraße train stations. It has been built as a new route between both stations. As a public green space, the Wannsee railway green corridor is expected to compensate for the lack of close-to-home green areas and playgrounds.
In 2013, after examining the general and technical feasibility, the landscape planning phase commenced with cooperation between the citizens, the administration and landscape planners. The process took place in three phases: 1) preliminary talks – 2) "Ideas" Workshop ("Ideenwerkstatt") - 3) Planning Workshop.
During preliminary talks in September 2013, the planners collected feedback from citizens which was subsequently discussed during the two "Ideas" Workshops that took place in November 2013. One of these was specifically designed for children and young people. Together, the participants discussed which issues were particularly important, what has to be observed during the planning process and which existing ideas could be taken on. In May 2014, the proposals refined by the landscape planners were presented at a public exhibition.
4) Monumentenplatz (2014)
The Monumentenplatz forms an attractive transition from the urban space to the green network of the Schöneberg Loop. The new area comprises 18 houses, 220 apartments and three commercial units. From street level, a stair and ramp system leads down to the square area and then further north into the Flaschenhalspark, which forms the southern end of the "Park am Gleisdreieck". This was co-financed by the developer UTB GmbH under an urban development contract. UTB GmbH and the District administration also contributed to the funding of the square, while the majority of the funds came from the Urban Restructuring in West Germany program.
5) Green corridor in the area of the Dresden railway along the Bautzener Straße (2012-2013)
The Schöneberg Loop can be reached from Bautzener Straße, on the new north-south green corridor, where a four-meter wide path for pedestrians and cyclists has been built. North of the Monumentenbrücke, the green corridor expands parklike. Access to the Schöneberg Loop is gained by stairs or a ramp. The former railway facilities as well as ruderal species have been preserved while play and sport areas for children and adults have been built. The northern part of the new trail was opened on December 5, 2013.
6) Torgauer Straße (2012-2015)
The Torgauer Straße is located at the southern end of the Schöneberg Loop. The area includes equipment for exercise training, balance and mobility activities. A small plateau with seats marks the former path of a railway line. Mobility impaired visitors can move around safely on the main routes: road crossings and bike paths are made visible and equipped with tactile elements.
Financing and resources
The foot, bicycle and skater paths were largely financed with support of the Urban Restructuring in West Germany program (“Stadtumbau West”), an urban regeneration funding initiative initiated by the German Federal Government and the states government in 2004. The program is a central source of funding for urban renewal projects in the old federal states of Germany. The Schöneberg Loop has also received the support of the European Union through the EFRE financing program.
The Urban Restructuring program has contributed finance to the following projects:
- North-South green corridor: South section from O-W Spange to Bhf. Südkreuz (2010-2012):566,000 EUR
- Alfred-Lion-Brücke (2010-2012): 3.44 Mio. EUR
- Wannsee railway green corridor (2015-2016):2.60 Mio. EUR
- Monumentenplatz (2014): 1.10 Mio. EUR, davon 870.000 EUR aus dem Programm Stadtumbau West
- Green corridor in the area of the Dresden railway along the Bautzener Straße (2012-2013): 1.42 Mio. EUR
- Torgauer Straße (2012-2015): 3.3 Mio. EUR
Results and impacts
Many sections of the Schöneberg Loop are now completed and widely used. Other sections are in the planning and bulding stage. Running largely on intact or disused railway lines of the former north-south railway line, the new trail appears as an attractive route for residents and visitors alike. Along the way, many new sports, games and green areas have been activated. Existing parks and sports facilities are interconnected by the green corridor. This green way, designed as a barrier-free zone, is also part of the national cycling route Berlin-Leipzig.
Lessons learned and transferability
Depending on the size of their land plot, investors had to pay for compensatory measures at Potsdamer Platz. As a result, the City of Berlin was able to plan and finance the construction of public infrastructure in the area.
The reunification of Germany in 1990 has also played an important role in the project. In the course of the reunification, the City of Berlin bought unused terrains from the German railway company “Deutsche Bahn” that would lately form the “Park am Gleisdreieck“.
The north-south green corridor together with the Flaschenhalspark and the Park am Gleisdreieck will be presented at the International Horticultural Exhibition (IGA) 2017.
- Der Tagesspiegel. 2016. Nord-Süd-Grünzug; Ein grünes Band durch Berlin. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.tagesspiegel.de/wirtschaft/immobilien/nord-sued-gruenzug-ein-gruenes-band-durch-berlin/13737204.html. [Accessed 21 October 2016].
- Berliner Woche. 2014. Teilstück der Schöneberger Schleife offiziell eingeweiht. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.berliner-woche.de/schoeneberg/bauen/teilstueck-der-schoeneberger-schleife-offiziell-eingeweiht-d48439.html. [Accessed 21 October 2016].
- Berliner Morgenpost. 2015. Öffentlicher Grünzug an der Schöneberger Schleife eröffnet. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.morgenpost.de/bezirke/tempelhof-schoeneberg/article141668735/Oeffentlicher-Gruenzug-an-der-Schoeneberger-Schleife-eroeffnet.html. [Accessed 21 October 2016].
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- Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. 2016. Schöneberg-Südkreuz Wettbewerb EUROPAN 9 - Schöneberger Schleife. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.stadtentwicklung.berlin.de/staedtebau/foerderprogramme/stadtumbau/Wettbewerb-EUROPAN-9-Schoeneberger-Schleife.4092.0.html. [Accessed 21 October 2016].
- Stadtumbau West. 2016. Stadtumbau West. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.stadtumbauwest.de/exwost-en.html. [Accessed 21 October 2016].