A bird's view of the area of the former Berlin Tegel airport and colored sections naming the different development areas.
Tegel Projekt GmbH/Macina

ISCN Global Mixer: Smart District Development - Experiences from Berlin TXL

The transformation and redevelopment of the former Berlin Tegel airport into the "Urban Tech Republic" and other districts is perhaps the closest one can get to a smart greenfield development in Germany.
In this ISCN Global Mixer, Stefan Höffken, the head of the project, gives an overview on their exciting plans and shares experiences on specific use cases they are developing.

Event details

artificial intelligence building & housing climate protection & adaptation data visualisation digital infrastructure digital urban planning regional economic structure sensors & LoRaWan water
20.03.2024, 11:00 - 11:30
Event type
Online (virtual)


Public money, public code: Berlin TXL is developing many interesting software solutions and provides the code in open license for replication.

The right blend: There is much software development and hardware use, but a crucial complementary to that are the "Entwicklungspartnerschaften" [development partnerships] managed through a moderated stakeholder process and carrying approaches to their full use.

AI enhancing use cases: For several use cases at Berlin TXL, artificial intelligence is a key enabler or crucial additional feature. Monitoring with drones, for example, can be done comprehensively and yet remain compliant with privacy concerns.

Be water, my friend: Water has many more utilities than we usually think of. It is not only part of sanitation and nutrition, but also a key factor and medium for cooling, energy management or damage control. This warrants particular emphasis on water management for smart developments.

The iconic hexagonal terminals of the former Berlin Tegel airport are testimony to past innovation, futuristic ambition and smart spatial planning. Now they are standing a bit isolated in an almost empty area of about 500ha. But not for long, as they witness with Berlin TXL a new big transformational smart district development comprising the “Urban Tech Republic” and the Schumacher Quartier and Cité Pasteur as new modern residential estates.

Stefan Höffken, urban planner with digital focus and head of the project, gave us a short overview on Berlin TXL’s overall plans and shared some experiences on the specific use cases they are developing in the project.

Their approach for smart district development has been to initially set up core digital infrastructures, such as a Data Platform or a 3D modelling of the area. To this are linked and further developed several use cases employing both newly developed software and hardware applications, e.g. LoRaWan sensors or drones. All is bound together by so-called “Entwicklungspartnerschaften” [development partnerships] with various actors and organizations from Berlin and steered through moderated stakeholder processes. 

An illustration thereof is the “Smart nature” monitoring of vegetation and identification of plant species in the area. Through drone flights a comprehensive recording of the area is done regularly and AI enables a detailed modelling of heat structures and growth patterns which then informs action for biodiversity preservation and management of the aerial climate. All this is done in cooperation with Grünberlin, a state-owned company focusing on green infrastructure.

Other use cases Stefan mentioned were a software that automatically blurs and anonymizes through AI sensitive objects in aerial images taken by drones, a more detailed and integrated heat and energy metering, and prediction-based water management. Watch the above recording of the session for more information.

Stefan Höffken also highlighted that their project welcomes further cooperation and exchanges, also with international actors. If you want to reach out to the project, feel free to do so also via the International Smart Cities Network at iscn@giz.de.