Urbanism Topics: Tempelhofer Feld Park

Tempelhofer Feld Park August 2018 (Photo credit: Shaharin Annisa)

Author: Rowa Elzain

During a recent visit to Berlin, I was briefly introduced to the Tempelhofer Feld participatory project by Dr. Prof. Sonja Nebel as a previous airport that was transformed into a public park through a participatory approach. Intrigued by the idea, this article takes a look at the history of the Tempelhofer Feld along with the participatory process of its development.

Located in the center of Berlin with over 300-hectare area, the Tempelhofer Field serves as a recreational, leisure and a conservation park for the inhabitants of Berlin and surrounding flora and fauna (Grün Berlin, 2017). The large field served multiple purposes dating from the 13th century till current date. The most evident is the large airport facilities that date back from the 1928 when the airport was officially opened. However, in 2008 the airport was closed and within a few years, it reopened for public with the chance for the rethinking the field for alternative uses.

Photo credit: Rowa Elzain
The history of Tempelhofer Feld
In order to understand the development process that the field has foreseen, one must reflect on the past practices and uses that were carried prior to present date. The Field of the earliest records dates back to the 13th century from the knights Templar (Grün Berlin, 2017). The area was later used as a military parade by Frederick William the first of Prussia during the 18th century till the Nazi regime in the 20th century. However, early traces of the public recreational uses of the field can be outlined dating from the 18th century as it was used as a one-day recreational trip.
Tempelhofer Feld 1943 (Google Earth, 2018)

Tempelhofer Feld 1953 (Google Earth, 2018)

Tempelhofer Feld 2000 (Google Earth, 2018)

Tempelhofer Feld 2018 (Google Earth, 2018)
The airport was constructed and began operation during the Nazi period starting from the 1926. The airport was used for international flights and a base for military used till the 1950’s. during these period, the airport was also used as a concentration camp for political prisoners and a forced labor camp. Currently, 20 spots that have significant historic relevance are marked with posts that describe the background with photographic images and detailed description.
Participation and development process
The reshaping and development of Tempelhofer Feld began along with the Senate Department of Urban development and Environment, Grün Berlin GmbH, and the residents on Berlin. The participatory model carried during this process outlined and shaped the Tempelhofer Feld Presevation Act (ThFG) taking into consideration the nature and residents of the city and area. Hence, approximately two-third of the field is used as a conservation field for the Flora and fauna. The remaining one-third is used for recreational and leisure activities for the Berliners (Grün Berlin, 2017).

The three main stakeholders in this participatory development described the project’s goals and aims along with the arena of activities that shall be presented within the park. These outlined set of guidelines ensure the integration of the site’s history, recreational facilities, and the continuation of the participatory framework establish in future development projects of the site. The five in-site locations selected are: Tempelhofer Damm, Columbiadamm, Oderstrasse, the South Flank, and the Central Field. Activities within these areas include sport, relaxation, history, experimentation, gardening and many other activities that could be found in the ‘Tempelhofer feld pamphlet 2017’.
Current-future projects
Although the Tempelhofer Feld park provides space for meeting, grilling, wind surfing and many other small activities, yet part of the development of the area was to provide projects that further activate the park targeting various groups. Following a public tender, 36 projects were selected by a jury for implementation out of 270 proposals. The jury consisted of civilians, politic representatives and administrators. Currently 19 out of the 36 projects are present at the Park.
Photo credit: Shaharin Annisa

Photo credit: Shaharin Annisa

A few of the 19 projects that are currently implemented in the park are: Jugger, Treffpunket Religion und Gesellschaft, Mobile-Bicycle repair shop, and Rübezahl Gemeinschaftgarten. As these are just a few of the projects, however, one could understand the level of diverse activities and opportunities that are available at the Tempelhofer Feld. The Jugger project focuses on sport in the form of Jugging. The ‘Treffpunket Religion und Gesellschaft’ (meeting-point on religion and community) is project that aims create a dialog within the diverse inhabitants of Berlin. The mobile-bicycle repair offers interested participant to have a hands on experience on technical training. Finally, the Rübezahl Gemeinschaftgarten aims on creating an alternative gardening society at Tempelhofer Feld.

An opportunity for planning in Muscat?
This specific idea of reusing an old airport raised a question: What if we had a similar situation in Muscat Old airport? The direct translation of series of actions is not the question ask her, rather the opportunity to begin the public discussion on what would be the ideal solution for an existing facility such as Muscat old airport. It is clear that Muscat airport would require an a different set of guidelines for the development process due to the current operation of the new airport; which poses security issues for the public outdoor uses. However, a development process similar to the Tempelhofer Field park under a clear outlined set of regulations would be an area of planning that could be further researched and explored.

Having similar inclusion of actors for the public sector, resident involvement, facilitators as the in between actor are just a few of the aspects that one would consider in a parallel line of participatory development. Whether it is the old airport, a public or private urban space, a facility or an old residential-historic quarter, resident involvement can be consider as a key element for the success of the any project under the process of development in Muscat.
Not only does the Tempelhofer Feld exhibit an approach for a participatory urban development project, but also the documentation of the history of the field, the protection of natural habitats, and the public involvement provide aspects for other development projects to take into consideration.
- Image: Google Earth. (2018). Tempelhofer field Berlin. [Extracted on 5th August 2018].
- Grün Berlin (2018). About the Park | Tempelhofer Feld. [online] Gruen-berlin.de. Available at: https://gruen-berlin.de/en/tempelhofer-feld/about-the-park [Accessed 5th Aug. 2018].
- Grün Berlin (2018). Opportunities for participation | Tempelhofer Feld. [online] Gruen-berlin.de. Available at: https://gruen-berlin.de/en/tempelhofer-feld/opportunities-participation [Accessed 5th Aug. 2018].
- Grün Berlin. (2017). Tempelhofer Feld: English version [pamphlet].