2023 report
Participation – Districts

Growing together. An evolutionary process. The “Zeughof”.

There is this lively neighbourhood – a district with the highest density of clubs in Berlin and a gastronomic scene that is like taking a culinary trip around the world. A district that magically attracts sunbathers in summer with the Paul-Lincke-Ufer and the Böcklerpark. And in the middle of this melting pot of diverse people, mentalities and lifestyles lies the “Zeughof” – the former administrative and manufacturing site of DeTeWe (Deutsche Telephonwerke). Matter-of-fact, cool, almost like a foreign object. How should such a place manage to harmonise with its surroundings? That was the “art” for the BEOS team to discover.

Interview with the project team

When did you realise that you had to “think ahead” when it came to the idea of corporate real estate at the “Zeughof”?

As soon as the neighbours noticed that something was changing on the site, they approached us, letting us know that they thought the current space was “too cold” and “somehow distant” and communicating what they hoped for in this respect. We quickly realised that this coincided with what we had taken away from the tenant discussions. They didn’t want to feel like they were “sitting in a castle and having to lower the drawbridge” to come into contact with the outside world. Even if there was no mention of participation at the time, we took this feedback seriously. A commercial site must inspire a dense of desire, otherwise it will not be successful. It was therefore necessary to move away from the area of corporate real estate. Instead, we had to succeed in moving the neighbourhood’s lifeline right through the middle of the site.

Could you say that urban life has brought itself into play?

Yes, and in many different ways: residents, tenants and visitors have brought a degree of urban flair to us and have contributed to the lively atmosphere that has been the hallmark of the “Zeughof” ever since. So the question was, how could we encourage this? This required an overarching concept for the diverse space taken up by offices, manufacturing, commerce and warehouses, which harmoniously and sustainably blends the “Zeughof” with its surroundings. This was particularly important because we have a competitor on our doorstep: the “Mediaspree” hotspot – a magnet for hip companies in the fields of media, technology and creative industries. We had to counter its appeal with a coherent district concept. So what could be more obvious than to open the door to urban living in the form of people and their opinions?

So you reinvented BEOS with the “Zeughof”?

Not really. The motto “thinking ahead” was already put into practice back then. But in principle, the “Zeughof” was the first time the BEOSphere became apparent Even if we did not have a name for it at the time, essential aspects of its basic idea became clear. This includes managing the portfolio in a respectful and sustainable way – a typical BEOS principle – as well as creatively reinterpreting spaces in the interests of the tenants. Think of it like an energy transfer. When people get the chance to implement their creative ideas, they are then in a position to put their energy into the spaces they have. Seeing this ourselves continues to give new inspiration to us at BEOS.

And this energy then formed a community?

As we know, energy flows and triggers reactions. We have encouraged this convergence with events such as summer festivals, food trucks, ice cream trucks and mulled wine tours – but you can only have limited control over how a community feels. Let’s put it this way: the spark has simply jumped from the neighbourhood that was already there to the “Zeughof” in the form of the many – mostly young – people. However, the natural way in which this happened also showed us that we – still acting on intuition at the time – had got a lot of things right. For example, by meeting the people in and around the “Zeughof” on an equal footing and treating our tenants like guests. In principle, we had already contributed a lot of what is now the essence of the BEOSphere back in the early 2010s.

When was it clear that the “Zeughof” had what it takes to be a district?

I would instead ask you, what exactly is a district? Of course, it also has to do with size, but we define it above all as a place where the environment – and that means first and foremost the people – both participates and gains benefits. And this is precisely the value by which we measure the quality of our asset and district management. We approached the “Zeughof” without even seeing it as a place to live – but it has evolved for precisely this purpose, often inspired by the sometimes unexpected energy demonstrated by the tenants. We are currently working hard on the next chapter of this special district story: at the end of 2023, our wish came true to repurchase the neighbouring property on Köpenicker Strasse. The main entrance is located there, which completes the district from an architectural perspective. Our goal remains unchanged: To further develop the “Zeughof” in the heart of Berlin together and with the participation of all current and future “Kreuzbergers”.

Creative energy thanks to modern and open office concepts.

Typical for the neighbourly “Zeughof”: atmospheric spaces encourage mutual collaboration.

“With the arrival of Zalando and Wayfair in the “Zeughof”, not only did the average age on the site drop to less than 30, but people were suddenly communicating in English and Spanish. The property quickly became a “place to be” for many new Berliners. That was a decisive moment in the district – and the best proof that it is only the people who make a property what it is.”

Lars Ebert
Branch Manager, Berlin
On the way to the district

The 5 most important milestones

purchase of the “Zeughof”
tenant fit-out and Wayfair moving in
expansion of office building on five upper floors for Zalando
repurchase of the neighbouring property at Köpenicker Strasse 178–180
From 2024
even greater opening up to the surrounding district planned

Close to the river Spree and with a view of the “Mediaspree” hotspot …

… the commercial site stands out with its unique location in the fashionable district of Berlin-Kreuzberg.

Decorative elements adorn the surfaces of the “Zeughof” in many places.

Key figures

sqm plot size
sqm total area