What Next for Tempelhof?

Panorama of Tempelhofer Feld including the airport building

Panorama of Tempelhofer Feld including the airport building

We had been wanting to visit Tempelhofer Feld for a while, and we finally got round to it on Easter Monday. Part of the reason we’d be wanting to go is that it’s the perfect place for Helene to practice inline skating – the runway and taxiways are ideal.  We also wanted to take a look around so to help Ilka decide which way to vote in the referendum on plans to build on part of the former airfield.

I’d brought the kites along as it was a little windy, and I wasn’t the only one with the same thought – there were kites of all shapes and sizes aloft. There were also quite a few people kite skateboarding, lots of skaters, motorised scooters, bikes, and one bloke showing off with a remote controlled helicopter.

What really strikes you about the place is its sheer scale – the picture above really doesn’t do it justice. I wanted to get the whole area in, including the airport building, but it’s too big for the panorama function on my phone. Tempelhofer Feld, as it is now known, is Berlin’s biggest public park, but there are plans to build more than 4,500 flats, as well as kindergartens, a new school, and office space on its perimeter. These are the subject of a referendum on the 25th of May. The map below shows the proposed new development – the big brown building in the top left-hand corner is the original airport building (once of the largest buildings on earth), with the proposed new buildings in brighter colours.

Master plan for the development of Tempelhofer Feld

Master plan for the development of Tempelhofer Feld

I don’t have a vote, not being a Bürger, but if I did, I’d be voting no.  While I like the fact that there will be some social housing as part of the plans, it’s only a small proportion – “at least half” of the 1,700 flats planned for the Tempelhofer Dam part of the development. That’s less than 20% of the flats planned, which doesn’t seem like enough to justify the development. The airport is a historic monument, having played a key role in immediate post-war history. I think the proposed development is too big, and I’m not convinced that there aren’t enough other sites which don’t provide the recreational space afforded by Tempelhof which could be developed.

I’m not completely opposed to all development on the site – for example, the plans include planting some trees, which I think is a good idea, as there are virtually none at the moment. I would, though, like any development to be smaller, include more social housing, and to be more respectful of the setting.

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