Review of Innen.Stadt.Leben. #1
(Re-)vitalization of inner cities, the role of retail and the future of the office
  • Date

    Oktober 6, 2021, 6:30 p.m.

  • Location

    Aedes Network Campus Berlin, Christinenstr. 18-19, 10119 Berlin

  • Speakers

    Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer

    Robert Kaltenbrunner (Head of Housing and Construction Department, Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development)

    Doris Kleilein (JOVIS Verlag, architect, publisher of Retail in Transition)

  • Moderation

    Alexander Gutzmer (Architecture journalist and Cultural scientist)

    Céline Lauer (Editor at “Die Welt”)

    Michael Fabricius (Editor at “Die Welt”, publisher of the “metroscope” newsletter)


  • Partner

According to JOVIS Editorial Director Doris Kleilein, „it was exactly the right time“ to publish the book “Retail in Transition” by Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer. The threat of deserted city centers that the book warns against was dramatically highlighted by the emptiness of lockdown. Kleilein met with the author on October 6, at the launch of the public discussion series Innen.Stadt.Leben. in Berlin.

At the start of the evening, Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer presented his book to the audience and explained how the transformation of retail affects life in the city center. One of the most important ways to prevent the desolation of inner cities is by systematically promoting mixed uses in city centers – meaning the side-by-side coexistence of living, working, leisure, culture, and trade. Just how this might look is demonstrated both by the book Retail in Transition and by caspar. projects like the Sedelhöfe in Ulm and the Deiker Höfe in Düsseldorf.

In a subsequent keynote speech, Robert Kaltenbrunner stated that an “extrapolation of the status quo” is not a recipe for the future of city centers, but he conceded that even he has no clear answers to the questions and that „humility“ is called for. The complexity of the problem was evident from his own report, in which he advocated for opening up spaces to the public, a neutral small scale, new lines of thought, and hybrid areas – many of the things that play a key role in caspar.’s urban planning designs.

Doris Kleilein wholeheartedly agreed with Kaltenbrunner’s and Schmitz-Morkramer’s pleas for the mixed use of inner city areas. However, she also pointed out that cities would have to muster the necessary courage. Schmitz-Morkramer noted that the inevitable processes of transformation are easier for cities like Düsseldorf than for others, and that many smaller cities would probably be “left behind.” Finally, a comment from the audience touched on an especially painful issue for Berlin: What is the role of investors and real estate companies?

A lively panel and audience discussion held in ANCB’s inner courtyard – in the middle of the attractive site of the former Brauerei Pfefferberg – came to a relaxing conclusion with snacks and beverages.

“Innen.Stadt.Leben” is a joint event series organized by ANCB and caspar., the architectural firm founded in 2004 by Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer. His book “Retail in Transition” (2021, JOVIS) serves as a starting point for four discussions involving representatives from different sectors, each with a different perspective on a problem that can be resolved only by visualizing and harmonizing as many approaches as possible.

Photos: © Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Recording “Innen.Stadt.Leben. #1”

Über “Innen.Stadt.Leben.”

Über “Retail in Transition”