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Konrad Werner: BBI blues

Scandal! Defamation! Libel! A bit of pot-stirring! Konrad Werner explains how he slightly annoyed Berlin's airport press office. Someone should tell him to stop picking at it, or it'll just get infected...

Plan for BBI Airport, circa February 2010

We all get that sinking feeling once in a while: Why do they flee? Gondor is lost. There is no hope for men. It is better to die sooner than later, as death comes to us all – your joints calcifying while watching pop videos. But such moments happen regularly to Dr. Frank Welskop, a former environmental advisor in the Berlin parliament who has decided that Berlin is doomed – economically and environmentally, mainly – and its elected leaders have been victims of a collective delusion for the last twenty years. He’s great.

The delusion Welskop means is the vision that arose after the fall of the Wall: the new capital of the country would become a European metropolis to rival London within 20 years, and would definitely not become a haven for dissolute bloggers who eat mini-Mars bars and drink milk in their underpants. Little reckoning with the power of these creative types, economic analysts went to town in 1990, predicting a population boom and one of those ‘influxes’ of business and industry they like to bang on about – for this reason, huge projects were undertaken – Potsdamer Platz, the A100 motorway, and the BBI, Berlin’s new mega-airport, which celebrates its topping out ceremony – 20 years after it was first conceived – this Friday.

I interviewed old misery boots Welskop for the EXBERLINER’s recent BBI story, to which the BBI press office took some exception. A call came saying that Welskop’s arguments were ill-conceived and groundless, and that they are not taken seriously by anyone, and that the article had “taken a completely different direction” following the interview. I mean, I do like their new airport, it looks a lot nicer than that misshapen Schönefeld with its American Diner, but still, no-one really knows why this new airport has been built. Business has apparently been hard to come by. The TAZ recently pointed out that no investor has yet been found for the airport’s hotel. But the BBI will be probably be good for the city in the long run. I just find Welskop’s pessimism so comforting.