We are certain that you have questions that we have also asked ourselves.
Find our FAQs following.

What does Eco City Wünsdorf has to do with Berlin? Why does the project not arise in the crisis regions?

The Berlin-Brandenburg region has the advantage of having an intensive research landscape with numerous research institutions relevant for the development of the project (e.g. PIK Potsdam, IÖW Berlin) and at the same time being the location of government institutions, important NGOs and supranational IGOs. There is a comparatively innovative population in Berlin that wants innovative projects, Berlin is young and dynamic (European election result: Bündnis 90/ die Grünen had the highest election result in Germany: 33%) and there is the infrastructure and resources to build a model, laboratory and educational city.

Why should the project not be implemented in existing metropolitan areas?

The simple answer to this question is: the Eco City is already being realized today in countless metropolises around the globe: in the form of numerous creative and innovative solutions, experiments and approaches. But in 2019, these components of a new, post-fossil lifestyle have not yet been integrally thought together anywhere in the world: however, this is exactly what is supposed to happen in the Eco City. It is to become a real laboratory for the post-fossil city of the future. The fact that our cities need to undergo an integral transformation to become post-fossil cities has not yet reached people’s minds. What is needed first is applied, integrated practice. Therefore, the Eco City in Wünsdorf is to be a holistic project that makes it possible to experience the advantages, atmosphere, sensory impressions and character of such a city of the future.

Can an association handle such a large project?

Eco City Wünsdorf is a project worth billions. At the moment, it is not possible to answer the question of how the implementation will be organized. The association sees itself as a project initiator, but ultimately the impetus for implementation and the framework conditions for the construction of the Eco City must come from society and politics.

The urban revolution? What is revolutionary about this project?

Since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, it is finally clear that we must drastically reduce man-made CO2 emissions. Our cities and metropolises are a huge lever in this: we live in “fossil cities.” The entire urban infrastructure, like mobility, energy supply or the supply of goods and food, only functions in 2019 through an enormous consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and petroleum products. Fossil cities also function mostly in a linear fashion, meaning they end up generating vast amounts of waste and emissions that we must laboriously process and dispose of or that pollute our environment. In short, if we start here and succeed in breaking up these fossil structures, we have a chance to achieve the climate goals.

Eco City is the first in the world to show concretely how the transition to a post-fossil age, post-fossil urbanism and post-fossil lifestyles can be designed. It is organized according to the principle of a local circular economy. Energy is no longer imported by tanker from Saudi Arabia or Siberia, but sourced 100% directly from the sun. This also means that money flows remain available locally, and do not follow in the wake of fossil energy flows. Nutrients are cycled, which means that soils do not erode and are usable in the long term, and water is also cycled, which is especially necessary in arid climates, making Eco City a model for regions and areas affected by climate disasters.

What is required is a fundamental transformation process through which the relationship between humans, nature and the environment is reordered under post-fossil conditions. This is a historic turning point in urban and settlement development. And this requires holistic and integrated solutions that encompass all areas of life.The Eco City will thus become a laboratory for integrally thinking together for the first time things that are already being done and tried around the world (microcredit, bioenergy, terra preta, …). So it will be is a laboratory for the post-fossil city (more precisely: a real laboratory). And in the end, hopefully, the start of a much needed turning point: an urban revolution.


Do you want to reverse globalization?

We think globalization is just as important as going back to the local level. Globalization has both positive impacts and negative impacts that are not meaningful or beneficial and exacerbate global disparities and environmental issues. Eco City sees itself as a model to counter some of these negative impacts. One aspect is local value creation: in this way, money no longer travels through global commodity flows, but stays local and benefits the region. For example, regional food production with the help of technologies such as solar thermal energy or bioenergy already enables year-round, CO2-neutral cultivation of even heat-demanding crops.

Furthermore, globalization as we know it today is predominantly accompanied by large-scale, linear systems (“tanker society”). These systems lead to loneliness, anonymity and often the feeling of a personal “loss of meaning”. One no longer sees one’s work as a tiny cog in the machinery and feels left behind in the global competition of talents. Therefore, the Eco City requires a human scale again: not according to the definition of today’s architecture and urban planning (“pedestrian”, “two-story”), but a holistic one, which includes natural materials, human structures, a reflection on traditional sustainability and a new appreciation of work through local cycles.


Why should the Eco City be built in Wünsdorf ?

Wünsdorf, or more precisely parts of the former military town on which Eco City is to be built, was a forbidden town for more than 100 years, and to this day there are no residents on the site. Therefore, no one has to be resettled for Eco City, as is still happening in the course of open-cast lignite mining. The location is therefore ideal and almost unique in Germany for a project of this size. In addition, Wünsdorf is in the direct vicinity of the metropolis of Berlin, which is the location of numerous research facilities and institutions required for the development of the project.

So far, there is only one initial reception facility for refugees on the site, where about 400 people currently live. Thus, all architectural and infrastructural requirements such as an accommodation, a refectory, sports facilities and administrative rooms are already in place. Thus, Eco City could be started immediately – with the conversion of the facility into the first campus neighborhood, the ecological renovation and the creation of the first gardens. Of course, with the voluntary participation of those refugees who are not allowed to work due to their residence status, but who would like to get involved.

For over 100 years, Wünsdorf on the outskirts of Berlin served as a military base and barracks town. Now a peace center is to be built here in the form of Eco City. This is not least a metamorphosis with enormous radiance.

What does Eco City Wünsdorf have to do with refugees?

Eco City Wünsdorf was created in a process based on the major challenges of our time. Ekhart Hahn recognized the substantial connections between these challenges: Flight, climate change and settlement policy are inextricably intertwined and two sides of the same coin. The reasons for flight are already predominantly caused by climate change – directly or indirectly. And climate change cannot be solved without reorganizing our cities and settlements.

With the claim to be a model for the repopulation of war- and climate-damaged crisis regions, Eco City Wünsdorf is also a project that creates the perspective of making a new start in one’s former homeland with new knowledge and sustainable technologies. In this way, it contributes directly to combating the causes of flight.

Excursus: The current situation in many countries of the global South:
People migrate to cities in many emerging and developing countries because they hope to improve their situation there. But this path often turns out to be a false hope. As a result, problem neighborhoods (slums, favelas, townships) are springing up all over the world, and cities are sprawling uncontrollably and chaotically into megacities.
Despite these conditions, the current framework conditions still do not allow people to go back to the countryside. There are few prospects for many of these internal migrants to finance themselves or their families by moving to the countryside, although often a strong emotional bond to the village remains.

Eco City International sees itself as an approach to break this vicious circle. If people were to return to the countryside with a perspective, because there they can make the soil fertile again with the help of cycle-oriented systems, the situation in the global megacities would also ease. There would also be fewer reasons for people to take the painful and dangerous route to the industrialized countries.

Do only students live there? Where do the others live?

For guests, visitors and researchers from all over the world, we offer the Center Quarter (14) , where various boarding houses, hotels and accommodations are available. Employees and co-workers live in directly surrounding garden city quarters.

The reason why Eco City Wünsdorf is a training city is that a laboratory requires young people. If the original residents would stay, a milieu would possibly develop in which innovation would quickly fall asleep with the increasing age of the residents.

Furthermore, the term “students” is not entirely correct – there are no institutional thresholds, such as a successfully passed high school diploma, to start an apprenticeship at Eco City. The training itself is based on the dual system and integrates practical and theoretical phases.

Will the project lead to gentrification in Wünsdorf?

Wünsdorf itself will become a place of residence for visiting researchers, employees and staff, and the Eco City will presumably require the opening up and development of further areas outside the current planning area, where start-ups, research institutions and local businesses will be located, so the issue of gentrification must definitely be considered.

However, a major gentrification issue would also be the uncontrolled sale and development of land to investors who develop the former military city into housing for Berliners* who are simply looking for cheaper housing and do not have much of an emotional attachment to the place.

Is the site contaminated?

The narrower Eco City planning area has already been cleaned up. To a large extent it is free of contamination, but there are remnants.

Regardless of the Wünsdorf site, cleaning up an area of munitions and contamination is an issue that is still crucial in many countries of the global south. It is precisely there, in crisis regions devastated by war and climate change, that the findings from Eco City are put into use. Therefore, part of the training is to make the area fertile and usable, as well as to remove munitions and contaminated sites free of hazards.

Technologies such as Terra Preta, which are used in the Eco City, are also capable of cleaning soil and making it fertile again.


What exactly is taught at the Eco City Wünsdorf campus?

A dual training system with theoretical and practical elements forms the educational foundation. The construction and operation of Eco City are equally part of the trainees’ learning experience. However, a significant focus is also placed on “informal learning”, which takes place through living on site and experiencing the post-fossil lifestyle in a sensual way.

In general, everything that belongs to the operation of a cellular city is taught (energy systems, water systems, aesthetics, horticulture and food cultivation, …). Multilingual teaching is planned in up to 40 training courses.

However, the exact curriculum has not been developed at this stage, this competence is missing in our association so far (if you are interested, please contact us). A network of Berlin’s creative scene, academic institutions in Berlin and Brandenburg, chamber of crafts and other actors for the development of the curriculum is currently under construction.

What form of organization is planned for implementation?

One point is clear: our association cannot manage a project of this scale. This requires entrepreneurial structures that still have to be found. At the moment, it is not certain in which legal form these will be formulated. The area in Wünsdorf is intended to remain the property of the state of Brandenburg, for example with the help of hereditary building rights.

Assuming that the development company EWZ sells the properties: will the project die?

Our personal attitude to this question is that “The idea is bigger than the Wünsdorf site”. A global network pushes the project initiation already at other locations and in other countries, e.g. in Lebanon.

With regard to Wünsdorf, the answer is that an investment for conventional real estate projects is still a risky venture. Until the expansion of the regional train station from Berlin, is there a less good connection than in the north of Brandenburg, for example, in the direction of Eberswalde. We assume that investors, should they be interested in buying the land, are only interested in land speculation, and believe that no one will really invest in the former military town in the foreseeable future, at least not until the expansion of the regional train station is completed.

If land would be sold anyway, it still would be possible to get into dialogue with investors, because Eco City, as the world’s first post-fossil city, would have global relevance for all urban sectors, and post-fossil innovations for sales markets of the future. Thus, a multiple, if not a hundredfold, of added value could be generated compared to conventional marketing as a housing location.

As a final option, the land could be bought back by the state of Brandenburg. Of course, this decision is not in our hands, however, it is feasible with sufficient public pressure.

Who are you to talk about urban revolution anyway?!

Ekhart Hahn, author of the project, already put forward the thesis in the 1980s that climate change cannot be tackled without cities. In times of increasingly severe impacts of climate change, which is now undisputed in scientific circles, his thesis has recently come increasingly into the focus of scientists* both nationally and internationally (cf. WGBU 2016: Moving Humanity). In 2012, for example, the then Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon proclaimed before the UN General Assembly: “Our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities.”

However, Eco City Wünsdorf not only has a visionary author, but also a renowned network: the co-authors are leading ecologists, landscape planners and urban planners, as well as expanding an interdisciplinary competence team of migration activists*, artists*, business economists and city makers, who together have a holistic view of the Eco City’s sustainability, function and quality of life.

Furthermore, Eco City is a project for society as a whole and not an academic ivory tower; thus, it has been supported by a civil society association up to now and is also located there in the long term. As a social initiative, we act first and foremost as people and not as scientists; we have no profit motives and want to build the Eco City “bottom up” instead of “top down”, i.e. together with the people.

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