How an airport managed to stay as a park in Berlin

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Last week I was in Berlin for my second time. I like Berlin very much; it’s arty, vegan & vegetarian-friendly, great for bicycling, cheap and has many parks. But one park, Tempelhofer Feld, is unique. Why? Because it’s a former airport!


When Tempelhof airport closed in 2008, the city of Berlin acquired this 386-hectare open space. The area was opened up in May 2010 to the public with great reception. Today, the area has a six-kilometer cycling, skating and jogging trail, a 2.5-hectare BBQ area, a 4-hectare dog-walking field, an enormous picnic area for all visitors and a community garden.


But the story could have happened differently. In 2012 the city had plans to build offices, 4.700 homes, and a large public library at Tempelhof. Even though the plans stated that there would be 230 hectares still left for a park, and new apartments would include affordable housing, Berliners did not trust the politicians after ongoing gentrification and rising housing prices for the past years. This heated debate resulted in a referendum where a majority vote ruled that the airfield will be kept free from property building until 2024 at least.

Some of Tempelhof airport hangers have been used as refugee shelters from2015, and the debate rose again when the city wanted an exemption from the law to build more temporary housing for fugitives. Many people thought this was a backdoor way in for developers and so it has been fought.

Even in late November, there were many people there biking, rollerblading, flying kites and walk their dogs. In the summertime, there are a lot of concerts and parties and always a lot going on. If you are in Berlin, don’t miss the chance of being in the middle of a city, in avast open space which used to be an airport.

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