Real experiment "Temporary city square Klausenerplatz Kiez"

Transforming the transport sector also means fundamentally rethinking the distribution of public space. Especially in cities, public space has become a scarce resource that can be used in different ways. But what are the possibilities and ideas for the redistribution of public space? And what wishes do residents and users have for their urban environment? For example, how would they redesign their immediate public environment if they had the opportunity to redesign it? The DLR Institute of Transport Research, as part of the EXPERI research group, now wants to find answers to these and other questions with the help of a real-life experiment in Berlin. For this purpose, from the end of September to November 1, 2020, an intersection in the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf was converted into a city square under scientific supervision by the Institute. Residents and businesses were offered the opportunity to rethink and redesign the street spaces at the intersection of Wundtstraße/Horstweg. For the temporarily reduced parking spaces, the direct residents were offered alternative parking possibilities at a REWE parking lot, which is located about eight minutes on foot from the city square.

Who owns the city?



In Germany, cars currently take up a lot of space in public spaces, considerably more than public transport vehicles or bicycles. In Berlin, for example, 58% of the traffic area is taken up by moving and parking cars (Agency for Clever Cities 2014 ). However, on average, cars are parked for a full 23 hours a day and often dominate the street scene - whether driving or standing - as at the Berlin intersection of Wundtstraße and Horstweg.




This leaves less space for other purposes of public life. Figures from Agora Verkehrswende show, for example, that in Berlin alone there is ten times as much public space available for parking as for playgrounds, i.e. for children. Yet less than half of the households within the inner city of Berlin (which roughly corresponds to the area within the S-Bahn ring) own a car, and the people who live here make the majority of their daily trips (82%) on foot, by bicycle or by public transport (source: SrV 2013). It is therefore important to ask how public space can be designed in such a way that it benefits as many people as possible and can promote active mobility.

Rethinking urban space

With the project "Temporärer Stadtplatz Klausenerplatz Kiez" the Institute of Transport Research wanted to investigate how public space can be transformed. At the same time, the researchers wanted to understand the influence such a transformation has on people's daily mobility behavior. For example, the temporary opening of the Berlin intersection of Horstweg/ Wundtstraße for pedestrian and bicycle traffic could lead to a situation where people prefer to spend more time in public space than before, or where the temporary city square could encourage neighbors to meet and talk. In the course of the research, traffic censuses, quantitative surveys and interviews were conducted. In addition, the neighborhood was encouraged to bring in and implement their own ideas and design wishes through active participation and joint design activities. For example, tree slices on the city square were planted together, new seating was built and further design ideas were discussed in open meetings with children and adults.



The conversion project was decided in agreement with the district office of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. For this purpose the road traffic authority issued a so-called order according to § 45 StVO.  The real-life experiment is part of the larger joint project "EXPERI - The turnaround in transport as a social-ecological real-life experiment", which is intended to investigate how the social-ecological turnaround in transport can succeed in metropolitan regions. The EXPERI project network consists of the Technical University of Berlin, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Research (IASS) and the DLR Institute for Transport Research. EXPERI is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the program Research for Sustainable Development (FONA).