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   Vol. 15  No. 21
Monday March 14, 2016

Tempelhof Is A Green Paradise

Tempelhof Airport 
    “The airport at Tempelhof unites the characteristics of an inland sea with the yearning for faraway places,”a delighted observer once said.
     Attendees of World Cargo Symposium might want to get out of the hotel this week and take a walk over to one of the best public parks in the world, where a veritable green paradise has been crafted out of what was once the gateway of The Berlin Airlift, where modern air cargo was born in 1948.
     Today you can actually stroll down the main runway where cargo aircraft landed around the clock between 1948-49. Loaded with coal and food, these life-saving planes delivered the supplies that spared Berlin during the Soviet blockade of the city.

Tempelhof Airplane
     THF, as the airport was known, still beckons Berliners and visitors alike to enjoy the old airfield’s expansive public space and sweeping vistas in the center of the German capital city.
     Tempelhof was closed in 2008 and turned over to the public in May 2010.
     Today, barbecues smoke and bicycles careen with families, joggers, and children at play where aircraft used to swoop in and out.
     “No other city would treat itself to such a crown jewel of open space,” said Ingo Gräning of Tempelhof Projekt, the state company running the site.
     “There’s 300 hectares here. The principality of Monaco has 200,” he smiled.

Far From Abandoned

     Despite closure as an airfield after THF was made redundant by the building of BER, space in Tempelhof’s huge sweeping hangar remains occupied by City of Berlin Police (the Polizei have been here since 1951) and the radar tower is still in use by the German Army to monitor flight traffic.
     Architect Norman Foster called Tempelhof “the mother of all airports”.
     Today in addition to all else happening there “Mom” serves as Germany’s largest refugee center for people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
     The interior of the old airport terminal is the scene for several businesses including a kindergarten, a dancing school, and the charming “La Vie En Rose,”a live vaudeville theater currently featuring a daily revue titled “Fly And Dream.”
     “La Vie” has been performing at THF for nearly 40 years.

Tempelhof Freedom

     In 2011 city planners advanced a scheme by former Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit to build apartments on airport land. The plan was shot down by a referendum that led to a citywide vote where more than 64 percent cast their ballots telling politicians and investors to keep their hands off Tempelhof.
     The Tempelhof Conservation Act now protects open spaces at the airfield from any change, including removing the old airport signage and runway markings that are looked upon today with reverence by people who use the park. Today Tempelhof has been branded Tempelhofer Freiheit, or Tempelhof Freedom.

Tempelhof Gardens

Gardens on Pallets
     The Stadtteilgarten Schillerkiez community gardens at Tempelhof are open to the public and provide a free space to meet people, read, partake in any number of events, and even grow vegetables.
     Blooming under the Tempelhofer Freiheit umbrella, this initiative is for people to experience ‘the countryside without ever having to leave the city.’
     The structures within the improvised urban oasis are built from an array of found and recycled materials, with pallets transformed into benches and shopping carts converted into compost bins. Benches and raised beds organize the vast space into small allotments where members of the gardens can grow vegetables or simply sit back and relax.
     Digging in Tempelhof’s grounds is completely forbidden, as no one knows what sits beneath the soil—a tip of the hat to THF’s military past.
     With the content of the soil uncertain, members of the gardens grow their food inside the raised, movable beds.

Looking Ahead

     Because the people of Berlin took matters into their own hands, Tempelhof—at least in the near term—will remain largely as it is.
     Further development is underway with direct community involvement.
     And while change is underway at the terminal building for adaptive reuse into studios and recording facilities and offices for start-ups, the process is closely monitored to respect THF’s  protected status.
     Today, Berliners have taken Tempelhof into their hearts and souls.

Tempelhof Interior

Heart Of The City

     It only takes 20 minutes to ride on a bike from the airport to the Brandenburg Gate and the monumental Reichstag, which houses the German Parliament.
     “From the roof of the airport's enormous, semi-circular complex, 1,230 meters (4,035 feet) from one end to the other, looking out at Berlin's sea of buildings it is like THF were set in the middle of a vast prairie; the flatlands that postwar West Germany's first chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, famously dubbed ‘the beginnings of the Russian steppes,’” wrote Der Spiegel.
     Whatever Tempelhof Airport may have lost when the airplanes departed, it has gained back with dividends as the emotional heart of one of the great emerging capital cities of the world.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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