November 06 2012

Filling the GAP: Short- and Long-Term Strategies for Europe’s Largest Open Space

With its 2.5 acres of land, Tempelhof has recently become Europe’s largest unimproved inner-city space. A site for experimental airships already in the 19th century, Tempelhof was one of Berlin’s most central airports for most of the 20th century. From holding a strategic logistic function within the Nazi regime, to providing an air passage during the Berlin Blockade – there is no doubt, that Tempelhof is a place filled with history. With a new, larger airport being built at the outskirts of the city, a referendum sealed its fate in 2008: it was to close down and no longer function as an airport.

So what is Tempelhof’s future? Who gets to use this enormous space in Berlin’s most central location? First steps to creating new meaning to the site were made in 2010, when its gates first opened to the public; since then gladly accepting it as a vast recreational facility. From urban gardening, to a bird-preservatory, to mini-golf, and experimental cycle sports – a diverse range of recreational facilities were set up to re-use the land.

Photography Rights: Luise Letzner

Meanwhile, a heated debate has been going on between those who want to protect the land and keep it as a park for everyone and those who wish to use it for housing and office space. Via Tempelhof’s website, Berliners were asked to suggest new ideas for future uses of the field.

A so-to-say search for “Tempelhof’s next super tenant“ lead to an astonishing urban brain storm in which Berliners excelled themselves with creative ideas on elaborate urban fantasies for the future. Here are two of the extraordinary, yet not very serious or practical ideas, for Tempelhof’s future:

The Berg

This idea suggested to build a mountain of several hundred metres height to be used as a nature park for hiking and alpine sports. The architect’s vision for an otherwise flat Berlin quickly gained in popularity, but its downsides were clear: How would the surrounding neighbors like it if their houses stood in the shade from now on?

Spaceport Tempelhof

Another initiative suggested to build a spaceport, from which space-trips for the public could be offered. An idea which might need more time to develop…

What would you like to see at Tempelhof?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Luise Letzner

Originally from Berlin, Luise Letzner currently pursues a Masters at HafenCity University in Hamburg, Germany, in Urban Planning. She also holds a B.A. in European Studies from Malmö University, Sweden, where she focused on inner-city redevelopment projects, place branding, and the concept of urbanity. She worked as a concept strategist and social media manager for several online agencies and in trend research, where she investigated new forms of communication via mobile and online technology, as well as trends within city marketing. Apart from Sweden, she has lived in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. and is fascinated by different approaches to the creation and use of public spaces within city centres. For The GRID, she investigated current urban and environmental design projects in Berlin and Hamburg.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 at 8:16 pm and is filed under Environment, Infrastructure, Landscape Architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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