New-In-Berlin #9: Tempelhofer Feld

August 19, 2014

I don't know how many capitols in the world own an abandoned airport right in the center of the city, but it can't be too many. Moreover, one where the public officially voted against commercializing the area, in favor of preserving and leaving it like it is right now.

The old Tempelhof Airport was one of the first commercial civil airports, opened in the 1920's, once equally important as London and Paris. Its main building was among the largest buildings on earth (see on map). The airport was closed a few years ago to make room for the - yet to be finished - Airport Berlin Brandenburg BER, and has been used as a park and recreation area since then. 

The so called Tempelhofer Feld is a huge area, consisting of almost 900 acres of airport buildings, runways and - mostly - lawn.

With the exception of the buildings themselves, the area is freely accessible during day hours and is used by people from near and far for leisure activities of all sorts. Among them are walking, kite flying, cycling or jogging. There are rent stations for Segways, bicycles and electrical scooters. Many people just like to relax on the lawn, reading books and looking into the wide open skies. 

It's hard to imagine there is so much free space right in the middle of a metropolis of four million people. Most of those who live nearby seem to be  happy with the public voting. We have talked with a few of them and they all voted against commercializing the area. The official voting was actually about 2:1 in favor of not applying any significant changes to the area in favor of keeping everything like it is, with a little project here and there.