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Friday 18, August

Berlin to launch “ideas competition” for development of Tempelhofer Feld

Is Tempelhofer Feld in danger? A 2014 referendum was meant to exempt the former airport from development. But new plans are brewing.

Photo: IMAGO / Sabine Gudath

Friday 18, August

Berlin to launch “ideas-competition” for Tempelhofer Feld development

The vast grounds of the former airport at Tempelhofer Feld are a source of endless debate. Can they be developed? Not even a little bit? What about just at the edges? Surely, the matter was settled long ago? In 2014, Berlin held a legally-binding referendum ruling out any building on the former airstrip, maintaining the area as one of the biggest and most-visited urban parks in Europe. But with a CDU-led government backed by powerful real estate developers and an ever-worsening housing crisis, Berlin is starting to turn its gaze towards the space once again.

It turns out that the language around the proposal is relatively cautious. The two governing parties of the CDU and SPD have only announced that they would like to “explore the possibilities of cautious peripheral development in limited parts of the area with an international urban planning competition.” In plain language: They want to invite architects to pitch building plans for development at the edges of the Feld.

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For a long time, any such development was thought to be politically toxic, but the winds are changing. Urban Development Senator Christian Gaebler (SPD) said it was important to make sure that “other uses are still possible” but also that he wanted to “reduce the housing shortage [and] make it easier for us to build apartments.” Probably, the Berlin people would have to be consulted in some way if any plans were to go ahead. At this point however, only time will tell what’s in store for the beloved park.