24 February 2006

Berlin comes in from the cold [Financial Times]

Be the first to share

Berlin_buildingsite
Sixteen years after the Wall came down, the German capital looks like a mess: it’s virtually bankrupt, unemployment is rampant and the property market is dismal. To all intents the city is a failure – but its reborn creativity makes it a fabulous failure.

[In the early 1990’s it was thought] that the [city’s] population would double as corporate giants flocked to the city to serve the virgin markets of eastern Europe. In June 1991, parliament decided with a six-vote majority to move the federal government from its leafy exile in Bonn back to the capital, taking the first step towards restoring the old Prussian garrison city to its role as the political, cultural and economic lighthouse of the German-speaking world.

Fifteen years on, the civil servants and politicians are over their Rhineland homesickness, but with 3.39 million people, Berlin is not any bigger. Its unemployment rate, at 18 per cent, is the highest of large German cities. Since 1995, employment has contracted by 5 per cent and its economy has shrunk by a tenth. Berlin was the birthplace of German industry and in 1925 had 1.7m manufacturing jobs. This number was down to 350,000 in 1991 and is fewer than 100,000 today. With less than half of its e20bn budget covered by tax, and debts of e60bn rising by more than e3bn a year, it is practically bankrupt.

Scanning the pockmarked face of Alexanderplatz, you might find it hard not to conclude that the Berlin experiment – the most daring political and economic engineering venture “since the opening up of Japan in the 19th century”, in the words of a local politician – has failed. But has it?

Since 1998, according to the DIW economic institute, Berlin’s software industry has doubled in size; the advertising sector has grown 66 per cent; and high-tech, media and tourism are booming. In 2004, the capital’s creative industry overtook Hamburg and Munich in size.

Such dynamism has not nearly made up for the violent shrinkage of industrial capacity that continues today. What these figures suggest, though, is that Berlin is in the midst of accelerated change. While not without pain, the city is building a post-industrial economy that could become a plausible prototype for the Germany of tomorrow. If the Berlin experiment has failed, it has failed in a very interesting way.

Read full story

Be the first to share
27 July 2015
New qualitative research on video consumption by UK youth
TV viewing (live, playback and Broadcaster VOD services) dominates the video viewing of all ages; however 16-24s have a more varied video diet, with TV accounting for two thirds of their total video viewing compared …
27 July 2015
Nudging to fix the world
Last week the UK media were suddenly abuzz on how behavioural insights can help government decisions and actions by being able to nudge behaviour in a favourable direction. Apparently it has become a cure-all and …
14 July 2015
Smart Cities will know everything about you
So, asks consultant Mike Weston, how can marketers cash in without becoming enemies of the people? Weston writes that the law will be too slow to catch up with digital innovations and that businesses in a …
2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments
A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the …
19 June 2015
Nesta report and case studies on people-centred smart cities
For smart cities to reach their full potential, they need to focus on the citizens living in them, not just technology, write researchers Tom Saunders and Peter Baeck of Nesta, the UK innovation charity Traditionally, smart …
6 June 2015
Europe’s White Working Class Communities: A Report on Six EU Cities
Europe’s White Working Class Communities, a research series published by the Open Society Foundations, documents the experiences of “white” communities in six cities across Europe. Each report focuses on a specific district or neighborhood within a …
28 May 2015
The driverless car push ignores challenges of people and context
Autonomous or driverless cars are based on a technology push strategy. Beyond statements like “freeing up time”, “reducing accidents” and some simple scenarios on “remote parking” or “vehicle sharing”, there is far too little thought …
10 May 2015
Developing patient-centred care: an ethnographic study of patient perceptions and influence on quality improvement
Developing patient-centred care: an ethnographic study of patient perceptions and influence on quality improvement By Alicia Renedo and Cicely Marston BMC Health Services Research (2015) 15:122 DOI 10.1186/s12913-015-0770-y Background - Understanding quality improvement from a patient perspective is …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

16 March 2015
Better Health and Wellbeing: Giving the elderly in Singapore sparkling golden years

Invitation: sharing session, Singapore, 30 March 2015   What are the hopes and fears of the elderly in Singapore? How can designers offer solutions that support the elderly in managing their health and wellness? What can healthcare professionals do to help them keep active? What role can technology play in the elderly’s daily lives? Design consultants […]

1 January 2015
Happy Playful New Year
21 December 2014
Experientia’s Twitter feed live

Experientia has now its own Twitter feed. Four months of Putting People First posts and other links have already been uploaded. If you followed Experientia on Twitter through the feed of its CEO, Mark Vanderbeeken, make sure to now also follow the company (but don’t unfollow Mark, who will keep on tweeting away). And while […]

19 December 2014
Putting People First blog redesigned

Experientia’s Putting People First blog has been redesigned. It is now entirely responsive, allows for easier browsing, searching, and filtering, and features larger images on the posts. The entire history of posts remains accessible as before. We are still tweaking things and welcome any feedback.

See all articles