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Berlin Wall Brownfields

Even though most cities have brownfield sites of different sorts, few have anything as unique and complex as the former Berlin Wall. For many years, the infamous division influenced the way in which the two cities of East and West Berlin grew. Since the fall of the Wall, the land that it occupied has continued to play an important role in the development of the reunited Berlin. Once used as a structure of separation, the Berlin Wall brownfields are sites with high potential for urban regeneration and symbolic reunification.

The land on which the Wall stood and its surrounding areas have been in constant transformation. Even since before it was built, this piece of the city was made inaccessible and transformed into a barrier. Over twenty years after reunification many of these brownfields have been normalized into everyday functions. The Berlin Wall brownfields have been redeveloped to house everything from important government architecture and museums to residential buildings and open spaces. However, some are still marginal spaces that have not been properly planned or constructed and that have developed interesting uses in the mean time. Some of these sites have also become controversial and contested spaces that reflect central issues in the city's future. The ownership structure and user pattern of areas like Mauerpark and Checkpoint Charlie have kept these spaces empty for years.

The brownfields of the Berlin Wall are unique in how they extend through the entire city, coming into direct contact with different environments and connecting them. Furthermore, they carry a special historical value, which is often commemorated. While some brownfields have grown into memorial sites, present to everybody in the city, others have not and their former function is far from evident.

The former Wall offers a wealth of insight into the field of urban renewal because of its privileged location, its extensive span, and the extraordinary range of brownfield sites that it encompasses. It is particularly interesting and valuable because of the variety and contrasts that it offers; there are areas that have been permanently planned and constructed, while others oscillate between transitional phases of emptiness and abandonment; there are informal and temporary uses, green and urban spaces, built and open environments.

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