‘No’ for Tempelhof
“The model of all contemporary airports”, Norman Foster once called Tempelhof. Despite its monumental status, it has been decided that the airport will be closed this fall. In their first referendum ever, Berlin last week voted in favor of the continuation of Tempelhof as an airport. However, because of the low turnout at the occasion the predefined threshold of 25 percent of the Berlin population wasn’t reached. So the airport closes anyhow.
The arguments for closure are that Tempelhof is located in the middle of the city and that discontinuation would support the development of the other Berlin airport, Schönfeld. But all more important is the fact that the city of Berlin is in great debt and needs to get rid of this costly airport.
Those who want to keep Tempelhof stress its emotional value: after World War II for half a decade Tempelhof was the only gateway to West Berlin, as the Soviets had completely surrounded this part of the city. Especially the older generation from the old West Berlin cherishes this sentiment, the newspapers report.
From an architectural point of view it’s a pity that the monumental airport closes. A restructuring of the building complex will most definitively dim some of its glamour. Although a Nazi architect has designed Tempelhof, and its architecture is quite pompous, the circular 1200 meters long building facing the runway is just magnificent. The actual terminal is located in the middle, with huge hangers at both sides. It’s a completely dysfunctional layout nowadays, but what an amazing curve!
But the noise and pollution an airport brings to an urbanized area becomes increasingly unacceptable. I do however wonder if our attitude towards airports will change when a far more silent and less polluting airplane hits our skies. Although I realize air traffic hasn’t much evolved in the past three decennia, that doesn’t mean change can’t happen. Just look how the Toyota Prius has set off a boom of hybrids and electric cars.
What if airports worldwide would start to count zero taxes for silent and fuel-efficient airplanes? Similar measures are already happening. Schiphol Airport already keeps out (older) noisy airplanes. And the city of Amsterdam is planning to ban all old cars from the area inside the first highway ring. All cars from before 1992 that are spotted in the inner city get a fine of about 60 euro. If you’re a classic car enthusiast living there, you will either have to move, or relocate your cars to elsewhere.
It won’t take too long before Beijing will announce similar measures. Because: which city can afford to lose their middle and upper class because their city is so polluted? I have a friend who refuses to return to Shenzen, because it’s unlivable. And he smokes! Instead he now works from the Netherlands for that Chinese company.
The clean and silent airplane will radically change our perception of the airport. For Tempelhof that airplane hasn’t arrived in time. In the other case they might have reconsidered their position.
Tempelhof, Berlin (Photographer: TPCOM/Flickr)
Tempelhof, Berlin (Photographer: 37sechsblogger/Flickr)