Tempelhofer Feld: An atmospheric trip to an urban oasis
What should happen with an abandoned inner-city airport? Turn it into a vast urban park!
On what was once a strategic airport of the Cold War, people from Berlin, Germany are now meeting up to do sports, have a barbecue or set up pretty urban gardens: Tempelhofer Feld is 300 hectares of recreational space right in the centre of Germany’s capital.
The park was created on the airfield of Berlin’s historic Tempelhof Airport after it closed in 2008. The airport had became internationally famous during the Cold War, when Germany was divided into two sectors – a socialist and a capitalist part. In 1948 and 1949, the airport was used to link the Western-controlled sectors of Berlin inside Soviet territory with West Germany: For 462 days, West Berlin was kept alive by an air bridge that dropped food and other essentials from the West. In the years that followed, many thousands of people fled the Soviet sector via Tempelhof Airport.
So Tempelhof Airport became a symbol of freedom, even though it was also the ground on which the National Socialists established Berlin's only official SS concentration camp during the Second World War.
Tempelhofer Feld was at risk of being closed down as a park and opened to construction in 2014. But a citizens’ initiative opposed the local government's plans, and in a referendum, the people of Berlin decided to leave the field the way it is now: as place for sports, gardening, recreation, culture, creativity and in memory of compulsory labour in Nazi Germany.
Photographer Andreas Prost visited Tempelhofer Feld several times to document the unique atmosphere.