Tempelhof Playground

The take-off runaway of dreams

From the City of the Wall to the Lung of Europe. Thanks to the Tempelhof airport recovery project, Berlin is again relishing in large open spaces. After the acquisition of the 386 hectares that marked the history of German aviation and their conversion into a huge urban park in 2009, the city administration has made an agreement with the ecological association “Tempelhof 100% Feld”: the area’s future use will not entail any use of land, as would have taken place if the interventions initially envisaged by the architectural firm Gross Max had been authorised, but will instead be the result of a participatory initiative of the entire citizenship. What remains standing is the hangar that dates back to Hitler and the Cold War as a national monument, the organic urban gardens and the long asphalted runways where runners, cyclists and skaters train today; there are also dozens of totems pitted by magpies, a symbol which parasailing enthusiasts absolutely do not want to see disappear as the last free horizon in the heart of the metropolis.

Tempelhof is much more than a potential area for ​​building development nestled between the districts of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Despite the scarcity of housing at accessible prices, a community has organised around its camps that at least knows what it does not want. It is made up of young Germans, immigrants, political refugees, dog lovers and budding rockers: it preserves the wooden counters of abandoned pubs as if they were relics of a distant golden age, like rusty vehicles among the expanses of plants overgrown with weeds. The geometry of its scaffolding and faded signs represents the temporal doors for the dreamed land of Utopia. No one knows exactly where the tracks of the abandoned tunnels lead, or what the perspective, peeling tables are alluding to on the walls, but one thing seems clear to them: Tempelhof is, and will remain, the symbol of the struggle for freedom. The consciousness of the citizen who is always alert and active, who does not forget history or sacrifice nature for the benefit of others.