A sustainable future for Mierendorffplatz
You may be familiar with some of the islands within Berlin: Museum Island, Peacock Island, Tropical Island...but one island in particular is truly making strides in the capital. Mierendorff Island, or Mierendorff Insel, is the neighbourhood surrounding Mierendorffplatz, and is surrounded by the Spree, the Westhafenkanal, and the Charlottenburger Verbindungskanal. The area is a reflection of Berlin’s vast diversity. Small and large businesses, garden plots, green parks, riverside walkways, quiet residential streets, and bustling main roads all come together to form a unique little island in the middle of the big city.
Sustainable living space for all generations
Located in Charlottenburg, Mierendorff Insel (also called the Mierendorff kiez, or neighbourhood) is most famous for its popular square, Mierendorffplatz. Originally called Gustav-Adolf-Platz, the square was renamed in 1950 after Carlo Mierendorff, a resistance fighter against hte Nazi regime. Here you will find green grass, flowers, and a playground surrounded by buzzing shops and restaurants. But this little island is quickly growing in size: there are currently over 15,000 inhabitants and the island expects to grow to over 22,000 by 2028. With such a rapidly growing population in a finite space, the island is perfect for experimentation. In 2014, the ‘Nachhaltige Mierendorff-INSEL 2030’ (Sustainable Mierendorff Island 2030) campaign was launched with the vision of creating a sustainable future for the island and surrounding areas. The name of the initiative is also an apt description: I - innovative, N - nachhaltig (sustainable), S - social, E - empathetic, L - livable.
Green island concept
The campaign’s goals are to combat dwindling resources and man-made climate changes and environmental pollution, as well as to maintain an inclusive community amidst the global refugee and migration movements and social upheavals. They intend to accomplish these goals by setting up recreational spaces, testing social responsibility in new ways, building mutually supportive, intercultural and intergenerational communities, and creatively organising resources. The residents of Mierendorff Insel are committed to a sustainable future not just within their homes, but in all areas of life: work, education, mobility, energy, and economy. Mierendorff Insel hopes to be a CO2-neutral, energy efficient island with a networked local economy based on sustainability criteria by the end of the project.
Shaping the future together
Crucial to the initiative is that as much as possible of the experiments and projects is discussed and decided upon within the district, so that the residents have the opportunity to participate in every part. The plans for Mierendorff Insel come not only from politicians, but from local businesses, scientists, and the inhabitants themselves. For example, the project ‘New Mobility Berlin’ (NMB) aims to ultimately reduce the number of cars in Mierendorff Insel. In June 2018, 50 volunteers were given vouchers for car sharing apps, bike and scooter providers, and public transport, in exchange for giving up their car for one month. A reduction in cars would mean that urban space usually taken up for parking could be used in more environmentally friendly ways, improving the overall quality of the neighbourhood. The initiative has several further projects planned over the next few years, which are not only environmentally focused, but also socially compatible with the residents, property owners, and businesses around Mierendorffplatz.
A role model for the rest of Berlin
Mierendorff Insel’s self-determination to create a sustainable future as a multicultural district for residents of all social classes, backgrounds, and generations is a remarkable movement on a small scope which will surely have a large-scale effect. The projects and experiments underway are intended to gain insights into sustainable living that could be transferred to the whole of Berlin, or any other city or community. Thinking globally and acting locally, this little island could be the key to a sustainable future in the capital.
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