Berlin is growing. According to current prognoses, the city is projected to gain more than 260,000 residents between 2014 and 2030. In addition to more housing, kindergartens, and schools, the city will also need new solutions for the issues that will arise through a growing number of residents sharing the same space, including noise complaints, use conflicts, and increasing demands on a shrinking number of free spaces.
The Cultural scene is growing as well. In addition to theaters, clubs and galleries, Berlin has been internationally renowned since the 1990s for its free open air scene – non-commercial open-air parties with amplified music, frequently in public space. But the growth of the city is threatening its cultural scene. Rising rents have led to the closing or displacement of many clubs, new construction to increasing conflicts in ever fewer free spaces.
The Model Space Project presents a jumping off point for future solutions to reconcile the needs of the growing city and its residents, old and new, with the needs of its cultural scene. It builds off of years of work by the Clubcommission in Berlin, and draws on both empirical data and case study analysis of other cities who have tried to address these challenges. In the end, the Model Space Project hopes to simplify access to public spaces for a range of cultural activities, including free open airs, and pave the way for more participatory engagement between the city and its residents.
With the support of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe and the Music board, a large-scale scientific study of the framework conditions for free open-air events was able to be carried our for the first time.
This is a first step in the right direction towards fulfilling the government coalition’s plan to:
“develop venues in the public space unbureaucratically for non-commercial outdoor open-air music and party events”.
In the context of introducing a simplified approval procedure for open-air events, there were three research questions that needed to be investigated in this project:
- Is a simplified approval procedure for outdoor for open-air events feasible with the current institutional conditions feasible? This question primarily involves the willingness and assessment of the responsible officials.
- Is a simplified approval procedure for open-air events feasible with the current technical conditions? In short: Is such a permit procedure feasible in the current administrative and legal framework? What hurdles would there be?
- If such an approval procedure were to be implemented with the help of a mapping of optimally suitable spaces, which spatial parameters are suitable for the pre-selection of suitable spaces for outdoor events with amplified music?
The main findings of the research:
- The current permitting system is complex and difficult for organizers (especially young organizers) to navigate. Interviewed city administrators expressed a fear of loss of control through a simplification of the permitting process, however questionnaires in the scene revealed that less than half of current events are permitted.
- Interviewed organizers however showed a high degree of openness for a simplified permitting system. Additionally, open air organizers currently employ a wide range of good practices to avoid conflicts, demonstrating a high degree of sensitivity for the possible negative consequences associated with events.
- Legal analysis identified three Berlin laws which form the framework for permitting open air events. Of these, the Grünanlagengesetz (Green Space Law) is the most restrictive. Areas characterized as Grünanlagen make up 82,5% of the public green spaces in Berlin, and include all the parks in the city; events are only permitted on these spaces in exceptional cases. This was the most frequent refusal reason among the 12 test event applications.
- Spatial parameters were used to identify “ideal” spaces for open air events which satisfied both the needs of the scene and reduced the conflict potential – 66 spaces in 4 districts were analyzed in total.
- Further research is needed to better test these parameters and refine the rating scale that was developed in cooperation with students from the Technical University Berlin.
- Interviews with administrators indicated that there is a lack of trust between the city and organizers. The Code of Conduct and Test Event Agreement which were developed in the course of this project were not able to be tested in full, but could demonstrate mutually-accepted pathways towards establishing liability and legal responsibility.
- The initial results are promising but not conclusive. Further research is needed on all fronts, as is further political dialogue.
In order to approach an answer to these research questions, several methods were used, including questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and spatial analysis.
In order to find out the assessment of employees from different offices, individual and group interviews were conducted and an anonymous questionnaire was sent out to selected officials (Annex II). In total, one individual interview and eight group interviews were conducted. The questionnaire was sent to 20 recipients and was completed completed a total of 15 times (75% response rate).
To clarify the legal framework, an in-depth analysis of the legal situation in Berlin was carried out. Research was also carried out into similar statutes in the German-speaking countries and supplemented by interviews with stakeholders in the cities concerned.
The analysis of the spatial parameters was carried out in cooperation with students of the Technical University of Berlin. The process was divided into several phases. In the first phase, spatial parameters were selected that could hypothetically mitigate or avoid conflicts between events and other and other uses and users. In the second phase, these parameters were entered into a GIS map in order to generate a selection of hypothetically suitable areas in Berlin. In the third phase, a selection of these spaces was analyzed during on-site visits with regard to their suitability as event locations. Each site visited was subsequently given a score (best score: 50 points), which is intended to represent the general suitability as an event location.