Starting next year, Berlin is adding a new playground for creative thinkers. Branded as the “Berlin Creative District”, plans have been put forward to transform the former Tempelhof Airport into a new, international focal point for art, culture and the creative economy. The Meatpacking District in New York and the Brompton Design District in London are the project’s role models.
The plan has a lot to offer. If Berlin’s Senate has its way, the listed airport from the 1930s – one of a kind in Europe – will be a shining example of Berlin’s creativity and modernity as early as 2019. The main attractions of the city quarter will include a 1.2-kilometer-long rooftop gallery, which is planned to stretch along the entire length of the monumental edifice, complete with terraces for gastronomy and events. This will involve the step by step renovation of the staircases, installation of elevators and upgrading the necessary security technology. And if Berlin’s historic preservation authorities cooperate, lights to brighten Berlin’s evening sky like beacons could be installed on the roofs of the 15 staircase towers, which will also provide roof access. The city and federal governments have earmarked EUR 28 million, although this figure won’t cover the full cost of the project.
Many changes will be needed within the 300,000 square meters of building’s interior. In the future, creative companies and cultural institutions will move into the now unused terminal buildings and the refugee accommodations that are temporarily located here until 2019. The structure at the end of the sweeping east wing is currently being offered to private investors, along with the former officers‘ hotel. The relocated Allied Museum will have a new home in Hangar 7, which is currently occupied by refugees, from 2018. A visitors’ center and dining options are planned on the building’s ground floor at Platz der Luftbrücke. “We will respect the location’s history, keep the building open and accessible to the public, and use the space for creativity, culture and business”, explained Urban Development Senator, Andreas Geisel (SPD).
As well as upgrading the actual airport building, Tempelhofer Feld, the former airfield, is not being neglected. There are plans to equip the airfield – today a gigantic natural oasis in the middle of the city – with free wifi internet access for everyone by 2017. Berlin’s “digital natives” will be pleased, and it is a clear sign that Berlin also wants to become the internet capital of Germany. The digital economy has already led to the positive growth in Berlin’s job market. Thanks to the city’s many start-ups, which appreciate the capital’s creative and investment climate, a host of new employment opportunities have been created.