Winner Announced For Tempelhof Design Competition, Mixed Reactions

Apr 28, 2011

Ponds, pavilions, viewing platforms and a 60 meter high "climbing rock" are just some of the features of the newly chosen winning design for the former Tempelhof airport site.

The city's Senator for Urban Development, Ingeborg Junge-Reyer, described the design by British landscape architects, Sutherland Hussey Architects as a model for 21st century urban development. It combines leisure, health and economic aspects.

Following a four month competition and six month negotiation and public consultation process, the plan was chosen from 78 designs. It envisages curved walkways crisscrossing the park, ponds for ice-skating and large, undisturbed areas for birds.

A statue of Alexander von Humboldt will stand atop the climbing rock overlooking the park's "pioneer users" who had established a number of sustainable projects to promote social and cultural integration in the area.

The pioneer projects, chosen by the Berlin Senate, will remain under the new plans.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the winning design, however. Green Party Senator Franziska Eichstädt-Bohlig described it as "excessive" in a recent interview with the Tageszeitung.

Elizabeth, 39, one of the park's pioneer users and long-time Neukölln resident, agreed.

"I think a lot of the features are completely useless. The walkways are a good idea, and the fact that there will be just a few trees, but most of the changes are not needed."

Elizabeth comes to the park most mornings to water the flowers and vegetables at one of Tempelhof's garden projects and says it is like stepping into the countryside.

"This is unique in the city. To hear the larks singing and to look out across the field and see nothing. It's not something that can be reproduced. Once it's gone, it's gone."

Since closing as an airport in 2008, Tempelhof has hosted a number of events, including the Green Tech World eco awareness festival, fashion fairs such as Bread and Butter, and music industry events and festivals like Popkomm and Berlin Festival.

It opened as a city park in 2010 and has become popular with joggers, kite surfers and barbecue enthusiasts alike. One regular park-goer Herr Steinhoff, 48, has been living in the area for eight years and believes the site should continue to be used for large events and recreational activities.

"It's much better as it is. The city has no money and no area for large events like they do in Munich or Stuttgart. The park should be used for concerts and fairs," he says.

The Senate has set aside €61.5 million for the project which will be divided into three building phases. The first phase should be completed by the 2017 International Garden Show and the third and final phase concluded by 2020.

An information evening on the competition results will take place on May 2nd in Tempelhof. An exhibition of the six competition finalists will begin on May 11th in Berlin's Urban Development Office, at am Köllnischen Park 3. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit