This is Tempelhof Airport, Berlin. Now defunct for air travel the airport has adopted a new function; an extremely vast city park, 100 acres larger than New York’s Central Park no less. Like many parts of Berlin, the airport’s conversion is, in essence, an act of reclaiming and repurposing, moving on from difficult ideological associations: Tempelhof was conceived as Hitlers ‘Gateway’ into the German capital.
Berliners saw the former airport, as it lay abandoned as an opportunity for sports. The vast expanse of windswept tarmac and exhibit their incredibly eclectic sporting gear.
This time of year being perfect for a blustery gale in Berlin, an open area like Templehof draws in a plethora of wind-powered contraptions, including everything from kite flyers to terrasailing (land windsurfing apparently). The open stretches of runway also prove an excellent space for cycling and skating. There were plenty of reclined Germans on those lounge position cruising trikes as well, and one guy roller skiing. At times it was like a competition of who can get fit in the weirdest way. Good old Berlin, always the alternative kid at the party.
Tempelhof: a place for unconventional sports
Terminal – Hitler’s Gateway
The airport, sited on land that belonged to the Knights Templar in medieval times, was first officially designated as an airport in 1923 and the original terminal had an underground railway, the first of its kind. The airport was redesigned and rebuilt in 1934 with Prof. Ernst Sagebiel at the helm, contributing to the wider plans of Albert Speer for the remodeling of Berlin during the Nazi era. This airport was to be Hitler’s gateway to the new World Capital of Germania.
The terminal is recognised as one of the largest built entities in the world; Foster once described it as “the mother of all airports” it’s limestone wings are indeed impressive. To visit inside the building you have to arrange a tour, otherwise it is cordoned off from the rest of the grounds.
In 2009, Berlin City Council announced that Tempelhof would be opened in May 2010 as a city park with €60 million dedicated to developing the park up until 2017. Perhaps the terminal building will become a MEGA leisure centre and bowling alley complex, with a nudist artificial beach on the roof… not in the winter though.