12. June 2012 / Thomas Jakob
Berlin is Waiting
The external works for the new Berlin airport BER in Schönefeld are now complete. In theory passengers and visitors could actually cross Willy Brandt Platz and make their way to the terminal and the planes, but the lack of fire precautions has meant that the airport operators Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH have had to postpone the opening of BER from 3 June to March of next year. And so Berlin still has two operational airports: Tegel und Schönefeld.
This delay, however, does not prevent consideration of what to do with the site after Tegel is closed. Furthermore, plans are still being put forward for Tempelhof Airport, which was taken out of service in 2008. What exactly these plans are and what their opportunities and constraints mean for Berlin’s urban development was set to be revealed at the "Follow me – Berlin’s Airports” conference on 5 June in Berlin, organised by Topos magazine.
Plans for the former Gatow military airport in the south-west of the city have progressed the most by far. It is to be converted to 90 hectares of parkland with large areas of urban agriculture and communal gardens. The concept was designed by Berlin landscape architects Kiefer CS. Tempelhofer Feld is due to host the international horticultural show in 2017, an event that arouses a lot of controversy in Berlin. The show is conceived as an intermediate step in the Tempelhofer Freiheit project, which anticipates housing development on the periphery, a health centre and a commercial area.
In Tegel 210 hectares are being allocated as commercial development land placing the focus on a “research and technology park for technologies of the future”. 220 hectares are left as green space. Martin Seebauer of Seebauer Wefers and Partner from Berlin presented the landscape concept for the site. The long-term goal is for the Tegeler Heide to become a significant landscape feature. The development areas will be integrated into the landscape via the heathland.
How and where any building development will happen in Tegel is yet to be decided. Currently, there are six proposals, the upshot of a design workshop, which are being discussed; notwithstanding the date when the airport at Schönefeld will actually be opened.
And what about Schönefeld? Here, the neighbouring districts earmark one commercial area after the other. Berlin’s chief urban development planner Reiner Nagel is self-critical in admitting that Berlin missed its chance ten years ago to contemplate what the BER and the landscape around the airport signify.
Peter Schatz (WES und Partner) presents the new Airport BER.
Schönefeld, Tegel, Tempelhof. Industry and commerce is to thrive everywhere, and start-up businesses, service providers and creative people are to occupy the buildings temporarily. Tegel is needed to strengthen the north of the city, claims Nagel. Airport-related business will establish itself in the south of its own accord. But what if the search for investors and firms that are willing to expand does not bring the desired success? “We have to be ready”, insists Nagel. “Berlin will continue to develop”. It could also be said that much is founded on the principle of hope. In the mean time the intermediate users will be happy.