This month I had to take you to my place of birth, Berlin, because guess what? I’m here right now!! This one is extra special and personal to me, and a smart solution, which wouldn’t have been possible to begin without the voters of Berlin.

Tempelhof Airport, built in in the 1920’s, has seen re-design and has a rich history in Germany, sitting in the centre of the German capital.

Why is Tempelhof significant to me? My Papa worked there for 11 years and it was a time when my parents were first together, I’ve heard stories of my Mama meeting him in his break, and the two of them making and eating popcorn together…ahhh true love. We visited the site in 2009 and at that time it was being used for…well my Papa’s office was being used as a storage room. We were sad that it wasn’t being put to better use, so to know that it is now become a solution, and is home to so many people, makes my heart very happy.

The Details:

Culture: Built in the 1920’s, it has been an important hub in Berlin and Germany’s history. It acted as the centre of the Berlin Airlift, when western allies dropped supplies, it was a commercial air traffic area and was the ground site for the American Airforce up until 1993. In recent times it has been used to host large-scale events such as concerts and trade fairs. The airport officially closed in 2008 and in 2010, it was opened as a public park, which became popular among kite flyers and rollerbladers. In 2014 the Government almost turned it into a construction site for stock standard houses, however Berliners took to voting and 64% voted in favour of keeping the 386 hectare sight as a public park for everyone to use. In 2015, the airport became an emergency refugee shelter for approximately 1,200 refugees. Recently, Berlin has decided to extend the refugee camp, creating a refugee centre for 7,000 refugees!! Tempelhof will no longer be open to the public, due to the security risks it may cause, and along with the main buildings of Tempelhof, another 5 structures are to be built, as well as other facilities, such as a kindergarten, a school and a sports area, creating not only a refuge, but a new beginning for everyone.

Shape: As it stands, Tempelhof is currently occupied by tents accommodating around 10 people each. The shape of the expanding refugee centre, will not only shape Tempelhof, but will shape the city of Berlin. Not only will it create a safe place for refugee’s, it will help to avoid homelessness on the streets of Berlin and allow for the city to continue as it does now, and focus resources and attention to one specific area, rather than multiple sites around the city. It will also shape the future of Berlin, allowing refugees to be educated in German life, culture, language…etc, they will have a better chance of integrating into life beyond a refugee. 

“We don’t want anyone who has experienced war and terror to have to sleep on the streets,” MP Daniel Buchholz told parliament during the debate on 28 January 2016, when the motion for expansion was passed.


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It brings me hope and joy to know that Tempelhof is being used for good! Tempelhof could have never become a refugee centre to begin with, if it hadn’t have been for Berliners voting to keep it as is, rather than turn it into a construction site! Described by Sir Norman Foster as the “mother of all airports“, Tempelhof is a great place to start to learn more about the country that has taken you in.
The only negative thing I have to say, is that the 5 new buildings are required, by law, to be taken down by the 31st of December, 2019. I hope this law will change, or at lease be reviewed, as even though refugee camps are temporary in description, they NEVER ACTUALLY are. They are homes, they are starting points, and they need to be redesigned and redefined, otherwise the natural progression is refugee camp to slum city. It is important to use smart and sustainable design to develop refugee camps into something more than a place to sleep, but rather be a place to start, to ensure integration and education are as important as health, both mental and physical. We need solutions for big cities, and decommissioned buildings are a great place to start.
On a holiday note, I’ve been absolutely loving being here with my family and showing my partner all the main tourist sites, along with personal ones. I’m so grateful that we were able to save up and come over, and we have loved every minute in Germany, and in France and Italy too! We will be going to Amsterdam soon, so any suggestions of must-see spaces, please let me know. You can follow along with our travels over on my instagram @demiurgedesign
Love Marleen xo


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