If you live in Berlin, the chances are you know, or have at least heard of Radbahn. Radbahn is the kind of initiative that we love at Factory; a wonderful idea formed out of passion, born and bred in Berlin, fuelled by collaboration. If you’re not acquainted with them, their goal is to “transform the forgotten space along Berlin’s famous U1 elevated subway line into a major urban thoroughfare and create a space for contemporary mobility, innovation, and leisure.” The rebirth of this space will not only light up the city but indeed put it on the map as a pioneer in the field of urban mobility.
We believe that a huge factor in elevating a good idea to an incredible one, is the bringing together of different minds, that despite their differing outlooks, share the same goal; framing the future. This belief was strikingly present at Radbahn + Innovators. Radbhan invited innovators from around the world to come up with concepts that would raise their idea to the next level. After receiving masses of impressive applications on a global scale, it was narrowed down to a final four. The ideas were then presented in front of a distinguished jury made up of researchers, politicians, startup extraordinaires and more. At the end of the evening, the VibRad team (now members of Factory) from fabulism took to the stage to claim first place. The atmosphere in the room showcased the devotion that the Radbahn team and the general public have for not only the initiative but the innovation and collaboration that comes with it.
After the event, we had the pleasure of sitting down with the wonderful Perttu Ratilainen and Simon Wöhr. Perttu is co-founder and MSc International Business at Radbahn, and Simon is co-founder and Cultural Manager. Here are their two cents….
How was Radbahn conceived? Where did the idea stem from?
Simon: I think many people already had the idea to build a bicycle lane underneath the viaduct of U1, but none of them were crazy enough to make a project out of it! The project growing further is the result of an exceptional team constellation: very international and very interdisciplinary. And of course, it is also about timing. Now is the time to make a project like this happen!
How many people are you currently at Radbahn? What's your perspectives individually on the project? I understand the team has all come from separate backgrounds, it would be great to delve into what you're each bringing to Radbahn.
Perttu: The core team is seven people, from four different countries. We are architects, a cultural manager, a human geographer and a lobbyist/business strategist. Out of this team of seven, five work more or less full-time outside of Radbahn and the remaining two aim to devote approximately 50% of their time to the project. In reality, this 50% tends to be more like 75%, and sometimes even 125%. We all contribute in areas where we excel and work on the topics that we feel passionate about. We would have never gotten this far without the support of our extended team; we have been supported by more than 30 people, all gurus and renowned pros in their specific fields. You also can’t forget the interns! We love our interns; they are the backbone of running a non-profit organization with limited funds, such as our own. So Selim and Daniel, in case you read this, please always remember you are important to us.
We can see from the event that you seem to have rallied up a lot of support. What obstacles do you have to overcome for Radbahn to become a reality?
Simon: The most significant obstacle is time. If the process takes years to be decided and the building takes decades, it’s going to be hard to keep the passion.
Perttu: I would also add the lack of resources available to build a highly professional team that focuses solely on this project. We have the people needed, but Radbahn is just one of the topics in their always busy agendas.
Now that the winner has been selected...What's next?
Perttu: When it comes to the competition, we will work with the winner to integrate their idea into our concept as well as our communications. Other than that…do I dare say it? Yes, I think I do – we dream of building a temporary showcase of Radbahn in 2019. The purpose of this would be to demonstrate to Berliners and local communities (especially), media and politicians how Radbahn would look and feel. This is a big project, and we will undoubtedly need a lot of partners to turn it into a reality, but there is already a lot of interest! On top of this, we aim to ensure the city of Berlin initiates an ‘official feasibility study’ for at least one section of the Radbahn this year, as this will be the next official step needed in the process of building Radbahn in the foreseeable future.
Will you have the same collaborative approach in the future and continue being open to concepts such as the one the winners put forward?
Perttu: We are very much committed to being an open platform that invites people and organizations to participate and contribute. In reality, time and resource pressure make this materializing challenging in every aspect, but this is still an idea and dream of ours.
What initially drew you to Factory Berlin?
Simon: I already knew the head of IT at Factory since Kindergarten, but it was Perttu’s idea to dock on at this great platform. It was because we wanted to open and strengthen our concept and at Factory, we indeed met a very creative start-up scene.
Perttu: I have some experience with co-working spaces in Berlin, but I always felt we needed to find a home where we could build high-quality connections and get more support, as these were lacking before. Factory Berlin has been a brilliant place in both respects, and the support from the community and staff is just perfect!
Thanks for the chat Perttu and Simon! We wish you all the best with the Radbahn project and can’t wait to see where this journey takes you. Want to collaborate or chat with the Radbahn boys? Get in touch with Perttu via firstname.lastname@example.org.