Increasing energy efficiency: SPIE modernises the street lighting along Berlin’s Karl-Marx-Allee

Published on 13 January 2021

Berlin, 13 January 2021 SPIE, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, was commissioned by Berlin’s Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection to modernise the street lighting along the stretch of Karl-Marx-Allee between Alexanderplatz and Strausberger Platz. Berlin City Council’s aim was to upgrade this former flagship boulevard of the GDR both in line with heritage preservation requirements and in a way that was beneficial to the environment.

After more than two years of renovation work, Karl-Marx-Allee is once again open for business and is a showcase project for state-of-the-art infrastructure in Germany’s capital. Instead of three car lanes in each direction, there are now two car lanes and one bicycle lane. In addition, a green strip has been created along the middle. As part of this renovation and refurbishment project, SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa replaced the old street lighting with energy-saving lights that combine ecofriendly performance with a traditional design. To preserve the architectural style, the design is based on the lighting installed back in the 1960s.

Ecofriendly lighting

To make way for the new concept, the team headed by Project Manager Detlef Matzke from SPIE’s CityNetworks & Grids operational division dismantled a total of 150 lights and 32 poles – each 16 metres high – along with their concrete foundations. The previous 16-metre-high poles were fitted with arms carrying five lights, each with a 250-watt bulb. A pole situated in front of the Haus des Lehrers and equipped with a special lighting platform also had to be removed. Once the old foundations removed, 36 new foundations were excavated at different positions, and state-of-the-art, 15-metre-high poles were erected. “On the new poles, we installed 36 lights that had been specially designed to revive the spirit of the 1960s along Karl-Marx-Allee. We also installed 28 LED light columns along the adjacent footpaths. The contract also included the erection of two replica Paulick poles, which were designed specially for Stalinallee – as the boulevard was originally called – by Richard Paulick, each with four lights and including the concrete foundations,” says Detlef Matzke. The multi-technical service provider realised the new street light concept with the support of five installers and an aerial platform. The new energy-saving lights will more than halve electricity consumption and, in turn, help to cut CO2 emissions. “This new concept has many fewer lights and employs LED technology, which is highly efficient and much more durable. This will have a major impact,” says Detlef Matzke.

Precision planning and solution-oriented collaboration

Since the modernisation of Karl-Marx-Allee involved not only the street lighting but also the services of numerous public utility companies, it was vital for all the measures to be properly coordinated. “An underground railway runs beneath Karl-Marx-Allee, which meant that we had to specially modify the new pole foundations,” says Detlef Matzke. “Our client, with whom we enjoy a trusting partnership stretching back more than 30 years, is delighted with the result of this project, which was completed on schedule at the end of October 2020 and sees Karl-Marx-Allee resplendent once again in a whole new light with a historical flair,” says Detlef Matzke.