Berlin’s Schumacher district: how hard it is to think about wild animals when building

Schumacher district in Berlin

How hard is it to think of wild animals when building

Sunday 17 April 22 | 08:36 AM | to Bernadette Huber

picture: Design studio with the help of animals

How can new buildings be planned in such a way that wild animals and insects can find habitats? Schumacher’s planned neighborhood in Berlin wants to tackle the experience and take 14 animal species into account. But it is not that easy. Written by Bernadette Huber

Animal Aided Design (AAD) is a planning concept that takes wild animals such as bats, green woodpeckers or hedgehogs into account when constructing new buildings. The goal is on the one hand to create habitat and food for animals and on the other hand to create a quality of life through the experience of nature for people.

Whether and how this works better is now being tested after several smaller projects in the newly-planned Schumacher district of Berlin’s old Tegel Airport.

General diagram of the Schumacher area in Tegel (Source: Tegel Projekt GmbH / rendertaxi)
picture: Tegel Projekt GmbH / rendertaxi

5,000 apartments and “a lot of green space”

The planned urban area of ​​Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in Berlin-Tegel will include 5,000 apartments, several schools, day care centres, sports facilities, shopping facilities and the Technical University of Berlin [].

The “environmental focus” was emphasized from the start by officials: cars should not drive here. Energy is provided “where possible” by solar energy, and rainwater should be collected and used rather than ending up directly in the sewage system. In addition, the area will become the largest urban wood construction project in the world.

Sand mounds for red-legged basket bees

In addition, there is planning in the animal-assisted design: a squirrel forest with oaks and other walnut trees should provide food and living space on an equal footing. There is also a squirrel rope that is supposed to drive over the multi-lane Kurt-Schumacher-Damm. Some kind of animal infrastructure.

Thomas Hawk’s design includes 14 “types of target animals”. He is a professor of landscape architecture at the Technical University of Vienna and founded a company after researching AAD. This was commissioned by Tegel Projekt GmbH to integrate the needs of wild animals into the development of Schumacher County [].

Consideration should also be given to the green toad, and according to the plan, Leich’s waters should be obtained with “sandy, digging soils exposed to the sun,” Hawke says. While the red-legged basket bee finds surfaces of sand and gravel on rooftops to build their breeding tubes, bird starlings have to navigate the walls of “hopping centers” (or multi-storey car parks). Cave breeders are “very active and present,” which is why people probably don’t like having him by the bedroom window.

Graphic Schumacher Quarter (Source: Animal Aided Design Studio)

Harmony is just as important as protecting species

In general, when selecting animals, in addition to location proximity and vulnerability, there is always the “social question”: “Conflicts between humans and animals should be manageable and harmoniously live together, at least in theory,” says Hooke.

bat It has not been welcomed since the Corona pandemic. “Infection doesn’t actually happen, but there is a fear.” You just have to be careful to lay out the quarters in such a way that “so the stools don’t roll into the coffee cup”.

Old goals as a new concept

Bird conservationists have classified Thomas Hooke’s concepts as “comprehensive”. Claudia Wigworth, BUND bird conservation expert, is particularly pleased that better collaboration is possible through AAD. Because while their fears are often plates Come on, AAD is an offer To those responsible for the construction.” She and her colleagues have been pursuing basic goals for a long time.

Like Thomas Hooke himself, she sees weaknesses in continuity after the end of construction. Because gardeners must know, for example, how to cut the place so that the project has a chance of long-term success.

Legal background

Section 44 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act prohibits injury to wild birds. Along with the European Commission’s Bird Protection Directive, there is an obligation to replace every destroyed breeding place when buildings are renovated.

There are no similar requirements for new buildings. However, the current draft of the Berlin building code renewal contains the construction of nesting sites. There are also requirements for large glass surfaces. According to BUND Berlin, it will be the first building code in Germany to provide bird protection for new buildings.

A residential project is still a residential project

Rarely is the process of prioritizing an entire construction project based on the AAD concept. “Builders stick to themselves, but sometimes you have to assert yourself,” says Thomas Hauck.

Even with previous projects, scientists have had to hold back: The planned hedgehog panels are a health risk for preschool children, the state government is changing and the project suddenly lacks funding. And even if a rooftop wildflower meadow is present, it is accidentally mowed by the building’s caretaker. Including insects that winter in stems and flower heads.

In general, however, he has always experienced cooperation with those responsible for construction as constructive, as Hooke asserts.

Low costs make AAD market compatible

Even in Schumacher’s neighbourhood, it doesn’t seem quite sure exactly how, when and by whom the concept will be implemented. Tegel Projekt GmbH writes to rbb | 24 On Demand: “Even if we don’t build it ourselves, we provide future creators with suggestions and guidance so that the idea of ​​a quarter model with all its elements can be put into practice in the best possible way.” The first land allocations will begin this year and we are “hopeful that we will find committed partners here who want to consciously shape urban nature and campaign for biodiversity.”

The answer from Tegel Projekt GmbH also explains why animal-assisted design will succeed in the future: “The nice thing about AAD’s planning philosophy is that you can do a lot of good with little effort, which ultimately isn’t the longest possible costs.”

“If the swallow is defecating in the board, we just have to be okay with it.”

In studies of AAD, it is notable that the focus is always on the animals that humans “want” to be. For example, because they are seen culturally as “nice”. On the other hand, disgusting animal species and of course those that cause damage to facades have a problem. Because “stakeholders” are also taken into account in planning and studies.

NABU’s Imke Wardenburg sees it pragmatically: “Woodpeckers love to get stuck in the front or swallow their poop, but I think these are things we simply have to learn to accept again.” So far, when advising architects, she has had the feeling that clients’ projects are less about marketing than about animal welfare. In the end, “It doesn’t matter to the bird why you think about it.”

Contribution of Bernadette Huber

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