Sustainable mixed-use development at Behrens-Ufer in Berlin

Bird's eye view photo of Behrens-Ufer in Berlin © DIEfabrik GmbH, Peter Ruessmann

How we are turning a former industrial site into an innovative and energy self-sufficient business location

A new commercial development by the name of Behrens-Ufer (BE-U) is taking shape in southeast Berlin. The design, redevelopment and conversion of the ten-hectare industrial site into a sustainable commercial area is being carried out by ZÜBLIN on behalf of DIE Deutsche Immobilien Entwicklungs AG (DIEAG). When it is completed, the site will have been fully modernised for business, production and science, with restaurants and versatile spaces for community use.

What exactly is a mixed-use development?

Mixed-use developments, which bring together complementary uses such as work, home and recreation, are of vital importance for creating the compact city. Short distances and the shared use of space offer not only mobility advantages, they also contribute to making mixed-use developments a holistic solution for accelerating climate-friendly and cost-effective modernisation processes to support sustainable urban development. In 2020, the New Leipzig Charter reaffirmed this commitment as a key policy framework document for urban development in Germany and Europe.

The so-called productive city, where manufacturing forms part of a mixed-use development, is also becoming increasingly relevant, offering reduced delivery times and shorter work distances that create synergies in material flows and energy supply. 

  • Behrens-Ufer impressively demonstrates how modernisation, climate protection and construction in heritage settings can go hand in hand. This is precisely where the potential of mixed-use development lies.

    Till Ackers
    ZÜBLIN technical business unit manager
Mixed-used development (commercial)
DIE Deutsche Immobilien Entwicklungs AG (DIEAG)
Scheduled completion:
End of 2028/early 2029
Design-and-build contractor:
Ed. Züblin AG
Business, production, science, restaurants, spaces for community use
Commercial space:
234.000 m2
Historically protected buildings:
Peter-Behrens-Bau, two factory halls, one building (Building D)
DGNB sustainability certification being sought:
Platinum for the new buildings, silver for the heritage buildings, “Sustainable Construction Site”, “Sustainable District”P
Elements of the Behrensufer in Berlin

An old industrial site becomes sustainable and fit for the future

The revitalisation of the site is being carried out within the framework of doughnut economics, a model of economic development created by Kate Raworth that takes into account both the earth’s ecological boundaries as well as the social needs of the urban population in terms of economic growth. The inner circle of the doughnut represents the social foundation and values of society (including social equity, income and health), while the outer circle represents the ecological ceiling (such as climate change, ozone layer depletion and biodiversity loss). The doughnut itself represents a regenerative economy that balances human needs and planetary boundaries to enable a sustainable, future-safe economy. 

Photo of visualization of donut economy
Visualization: Donut economy

The new mixed-use site will become a vibrant community hub. Following demolition works in the south end, construction will begin on a promenade – taking into account the groundwater protection zone – to create space for aquatic activities and other recreational use. The promenade will be freely accessible through the new development.

The project brings together many different experts from within the STRABAG Group. LEAN.Construction methods are being used to avoid waste in the workflows and to ensure efficient and sustainable coordination on the construction site.

foto of the public areas at Behrensufer © DIEfabrik GmbH
A vibrant community space: the new development will feature public areas accessible to all.
Photo of the distinctive atrium and other hallmarks of the Peter-Behrens-Bau are being perserved. © DIEAG

Heritage-protected Peter-Behrens-Bau to undergo extensive refurbishment

TextfeldThe heart of the development site is the Peter-Behrens-Bau, built in 1917, with its stunning atrium. Many details of the original building, such as the wooden doors and the impressive tiled panels in the historic towers, will be preserved as far as possible. All restoration work will be closely coordinated with the heritage preservation authorities. In addition to the Peter-Behrens-Bau, two factory halls and so-called Building D will also will undergo extensive renovation and modernisation works.

  • One of the main challenges when renovating existing buildings is how to reconcile the high sustainability standards with heritage preservation requirements.

    Katharina Kurth
    ZÜBLIN project manager

In the former assembly hall, for example, we reconcile sustainability standards with heritage protection as follows: While the historic windows are being partially restored or replicated, additional windows in the interior of the hall create a pleasant indoor climate while also taking heating and cooling requirements into account.

Photo of ceiling modules from clay with water-carrying pipes from AgrillaTherm © AgrillaTherm

Innovative and sustainable solutions

The Behrens-Ufer development is focused on self-sufficiency in the energy supply and innovative solutions for an all-inclusive resource-efficient circular economy. Considerations include the use of deep geothermal energy, solar façades, rainwater storage and air-source heat pumps. Electricity and heat will largely be generated on site.

During construction and fit-out of the buildings, we will focus on using wood and other sustainable building materials, cradle-to-cradle products, and innovative, climate-friendly energy technology solutions such as water-bearing clay ceilings.