Potsdamer Platz – Revisiting Integrated Green Infrastructure Perfection in Berlin, Germany

Sourced from the Living Architecture Monitor

After WWII, the downtown of Berlin was destroyed by air raids and artillery - covered with building debris, unexploded bombs and rubble.   Out of these ashes emerged, almost 60 years later, an outstanding 60 acres of commercial development featuring 19 buildings, which to this day exemplifies the best in integrated green infrastructure and stormwater design and development.

It’s early morning and the mists from the 1.2 hectare lake, the centerpiece of Potsdamer Platz are still swirling about, as Herbert Dreiseitl, Executive Director of Ramboll Living Cities Lab and lead designer of the project escorts a few colleagues on a rare tour of this enormous place. We are in Berlin attending the 10th Annual World Green Infrastructure Congress and we rise early to see this project with its lead designer – a special treat.

“The Lake is designed to rise and fall from 12 to 30 centimetres to adjust to varying levels of stormwater flows”, said Herbert as we stand by the mirrored surface of the lake.  “The buildings on the site also have over 12,000 square meters of extensive green roofs, and there are strict policies on the maintenance programs for each them to help control water quality.” 

The lake is surrounded on several sides by living machines (cleansing biotopes) that filter out pollutants in the water.  We are in downtown Berlin and there are small birds and dragon flies flying about the site.  “I had to fight to have plants in the lake, to help clean the water, and to keep copper flashing off the roofs,” said Herbert.  “The ‘starchitects’ on the project just wanted a reflecting pool for mirroring the facades of their buildings but I won Renzo’s support.”   Italian architect Renzo Piano (California Academy of Sciences) was responsible for the overall masterplan design of the site. 

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