Berlinize Your
City In 7 Steps

Is your city lacking growth, future perspectives, and a vivid cultural scene? Follow our 7 steps to transform your city into a flourishing and dynamic metropolis.

Portrait photo of a fictional former mayor of Athens
Dimitrios Mankos
Former mayor or Athens
B–Labs really understood the complex realities of the city. Their hands on mentality was truly inspiring, no issue was left untouched.
Photo of dozens of white people smiling and looking into the camera in front of the Factory building in Berlin
Daily diversity in Berlin’s offices.
Image: Factory
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1

Attract an international workforce

Berlin is a vibrant city with low living costs, good job prospects and easily obtainable work permits for foreigners, in an international comparison. This acts as the perfect attraction for expats from all over the world. Well educated Europeans in particular, now moving to Berlin, are a major driver of growth. Today, nearly one out of five is a foreigner and over 39.000 students from all over the world study at universities in Berlin. The internationalisation started long before: In 1955 Germany and Italy signed the first recruitment-agreement for migrant workers and similar followed with Turkey and Greece. This brought hundreds of thousands of valuable workers in times of economic boom. Today, foreign communities add to the cultural and especially culinary value of the city.

Free universities for everybody

The majority of German universities are tuition free. In contrast to other countries, only one-third of all students end their studies in debt.

Aim for 20% internationals

Recruitment-agreements in the 1950’s and 60’s helped Germany build up a multinational workforce.

Accept English as the business language

English, as a business language, is highly beneficial for international teams — also when you need to order a chai latte.

Embrace foreign traditions

The Döner Kebab has become a fundamental pillar of the city’s cultural identity.

Photo of a long queue in front of the Berghain club all dressed in black
This is Berlin’s most famous specimen at the entrance to Berghain. Good luck!
Image: Sarah Stroh

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2

Establish a
party scene

The lax enforcement against the illegal use of empty lots in Berlin opened up space for artists and musicians. In dark corners, old fabric halls and abandoned basements a club scene grew. Today, Berlin is world famous for dark techno and lax drug policies. The party easily lasts throughout the whole weekend and the club won't be abandoned till Monday morning. But before hitting the dance floor Berliners enjoy pre-drinks in one of Berlin’s famous Spätis. These late-night shops are open around the clock, stacked with beer and tobacco and often provide benches for immediate consumption. If you make it past the bouncer, the night is yours to roam.

Have no curfew

Don’t regulate opening hours of clubs and bars. There is no limit.

Allow alcohol in public

Unhalted. La Dolce Vita flows through the city like a wave of pure emotion.

Decriminalize drug use

Don't worry, just put it in your pockets.

24/7 shops

Like Lady Justice the Späti does not judge you by appearance or status.

Techno

Bumm bumm tzz bumm bumm tzz.

Photo of the blue and golden Ishtar Gate in Berlin
»Blue blue blue, are all the things I own.« as a German children's song exclaims. The Ishtar Gate as shown in Berlin's Pergamon Museum.
Image: National Geographic
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3

Become a cultural and political hub

Berlin, German capital and political centre, seat of parliament and government, of institutions and organisations, international city of encounters and culture, media city, place of German, European and international history. Berlin, centre of attraction for visitors from Germany and all over the world. More than 180 museums, large exhibitions, music events, but also countless pop culture events like Venus Berlin, first of May vandalism or any of the glorious events at Messe Nord/ICC put Berlin on the map.

Rescue foreign
historic artefacts

Berlins museums exhibit a huge collection of stolen attractions like the impressive gate of Babylon.

Relocate the government to your city

Nobody thought Bonn could get even more boring.

Strengthen legal institutions

Germany is currently one of the international front-runners. Let's see how the next election goes.

Protect freedom of expression

It’s not a joke, it’s the right to make one.

Photo with people at the Tempelhofer Feld during sunset and the Television Tower in the background
A visit to Tempelhofer Feld is like a trip to the countryside — without having to leave the city. 70.000 people are said to visit the iconic former nazi airport on a sunny day.
Image: visitBerlin
The huge Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin, 3.51 km²
Ground plan of the Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin
The smaller Central Park in NYC, 3.41 km²
Ground plan of the Central Park in New York City
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4

Protect and maintain public spaces

Green urban areas make up for noise and air pollution and help to balance the urban temperature. 34,3% of Berlins area are public green spaces, even 59% when including privately owned green spaces. 2,500 public parks offer places of retreat to the population. The Tempelhofer Feld is one of the cities most acclaimed green spaces, it is among the biggest inner city parks worldwide and outranks the Central Park in New York. There have been several plans to develop the area ever since it stopped acting as an airport. 2014 a majority accepted a referendum on Tempelhofer Feld to keep the park undeveloped. Since this day hipsters and young families patrol happily over the old Wehrmacht airport.

Don’t police your parks

Trust your inhabitants rather than controlling them. Let them hippies run loose.

Plant 0.3 street trees per inhabitant

On average there are 8 trees per kilometer. And on average two in front of your window.

Develop a diverse range of parks

Parks and gardens, city squares and green spaces of different sizes and design qualities from different eras characterise the image of your city.

Keep your streets comfortably dirty

A lost shoe or old mattress makes every street feel like home.

Photo of the intersection at Rosenthaler Platz with a cars and a tram
Public transport: the perfect place to meet your friends for a drink or two.
Image: Gilly
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5

Offer good
public transport

S-Bahn Berlin covers 15 lines on a 330 kilometer long regional network with almost 170 train stations. The so-called Ringbahn circles the city centre in approximately 60 minutes (equals 6 beers on average). With its 10 lines, the U-Bahn Berlin runs along a network of 173 stations. There are 300 bus lines connecting the suburbs with the central city, S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations, during daytime. M11 to M85 run 24 hours a day, seven days a week in ten minute intervals. Night buses operate all night and replace the main U-Bahn connections during non-operating ours. This vast network creates a near perfect opportunity to skip the car. But beware to meet the Kontrollettis if you skip the ticket — BVG's paid thugs.

Introduce night service on weekends

All subways run through the night on weekends allowing the party scene to thrive. During weekdays the subway is replaced by a night bus.

Make it accessible

61,27% of Berlin’s underground network is accessible to wheelchair users. In Paris only the M14 is accessible for wheelchair users, which equals to 2,98%.

Rebrand your public transport

Instead of investing millions into your infrastructure, just hire us to rebrand your mediocre service.

Make sure the closest station is within a 5 minute walk

80% of Berliners have a public transport station within 5 minutes walking distance. 20% don't.

Give them something to talk about

Delays and weird people you meet in public transport are a great conversation starter at work.

Photo of two huge wall paintings and various graffitis in front of an empty space
The “Curvy Brache” was one of last empty spaces in Kreuzberg directly at the river spree. After investors came the artist removed her iconic artwork to oppose construction.
Image: Berliner Zeitung
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6

Let spaces grow wild and attractive

Ever since the reunion of East and West Berlin, a lot of prominent spaces have been neglected by investors or were left untouched by the state. Artist collectives, nightclubs, and left-wing political groups took up residence, marking the city's foreign appeal, as open-minded, artsy and rebellious. Even though land prices are rising to unknown heights and squatted houses continue to disappear, alternative housing projects are still something that can be found in the streets of Berlin.

Improve housing
rights for tenants

§13 of the German Constitution guarantees the inviolability of the home. Only a pipe bursting or a fire would leave a tenant helpless. But that is due to the force of nature right?

Incentivize companies
to invest into your city

Sell the city-owned plots in a time of need to seek core investments of global companies. A deal that certainly comes with a low risk of blowing up in your face.

Become a polycentric city

Centralized cities are just so limited. Ever tried monogamy? It sucks.

Don’t enforce every law

Freedom needs air and not every squatted house needs to be cleared. Alternative projects create value for the whole neighbourhood.

Black and white photo of Trümmerfrauen (literally translated as ruins woman or rubble woman) which, in the aftermath of World War II, helped clear and reconstruct the bombed cities
Berlin after WW2 — a horrible mess, but nonetheless the path that led to immense growth.
Image: Design You Trust
Berlin's Population
Graph showing how Berlin went from 4.5 million inhabitants in 1942 to 2.8 million in 1945 to 3.4 million in 1952 to 3 million in 1978 to 3.6 million inhabitants in 2020
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7

Create space
for change

Berlin struggled a lot. After its near-total destruction in 1945, it lost 30% of its population and was only partly rebuilt. 1961 the cold war split east and west and manifested in the Berlin wall, that separated friends and families for decades. In the 80s West Berlin became an island of freedom, excluded from the rest of Germany. A vibrant art community flourished, as living in Berlin counted as war service inhabitants were omitted from compulsory military service. After the reunification in 1990, the now unleashed culture of East Berlin joined with the west in a trance of love. The vast amount of vacant warehouses gave space to the newly liberated — dancing to techno. And they still do.

Tear down whole districts

Nothing can be more refreshing than a new start.

Portrait photo of David Hasselhoff smiling

Divide your
city in two

Do you fancy a wall? Don’t worry, you can reunite later and commercialise the whole story.

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Photo of a fancy open plan office with people sitting in front of their computers
Drop by our fancy Berlin office in Kreuzberg. Mate included.
Image: Austin Distel

B–Labs
Urban Future Experts

With our proven toolset and process our designers, planners and architects will help you with the transformation process. B-Lab has been reinventing various cities and urban areas around the world for decades. We are a team of urban future experts with more than 20 years of experience shaping social change. No other intention guides our process except to offer the best possible support in creating the most profitable vision of what is to become.