Tempelhof Mountain 1
What do to with Tempelhof Airport? After the airfield has been closed last October the city of Berlin has asked the ‘Berliners’ just that. One of the ideas that were sent to the municipality (and directly put aside) is the idea by architect Jakob Tigges. He proposes to construct a 1,000 meter tall mountain on the former airfield.
Imagine that in weekends you could climb a mountain, right in your city! On long summer nights barbeques could be held on the foot of the mountain, overlooking the Berlin skyline. When the conditions would allow for it, daredevils could take their glider from the mountain down onto the city. In the winter, when the slopes would turn white, the population of the city could ski right into the streets.
When I visited Berlin at the beginning of January this year I found out that the streets are not salted anymore that much to save the environment. The result is that with a little snow the city turns magnificently white. It would require only a little extra effort to shut down a couple of blocks to motor traffic, to allow for skiing.
The future city seems to be a leisure city. There are architects that suggest that the main attractor of cities should be the quality of living. If that is true, leisure should be considered as one of the main assets of a city. Leisure at large could include: Shops, restaurants, cafés and clubs; but also sports clubs and ‘nature’. Nature like a mountain.
The mountain idea makes me think of one of the datascapes that MVRDV did for the exhibition ‘Datacity’. When discussing garbage Winy Maas, Jakob van Rijs and Natalie de Vries suggested to collect all the garbage produced in the Netherlands and put them in just a couple of spots near each other. In a couple of years the flat landscape of the Netherlands would ‘naturally’ be enriched with an enormously high skyline of new mountains. A monument to consumerism.
What would happen if Berlin would take that idea into practice? The city would construct the largest MVRDV design on earth, that is for sure. But how long would it take? A simple calculation looks like this:
Cone = (π r²)h/2
Mountain: (π 1,000²)1,000/2 = 1.570.000.000 m³
If the 3.400.000 inhabitants of the city of Berlin would each produce 1 m³ of garbage a year, it would take 461 years to complete the mountain. However, if all 82.000.000 Germans would collect their garbage at Tempelhof, it would still take 19 years to get the mountain up to the kilometer. But that is for a mountain higher than the Burj Dubai!
Technically the Tempelhof Mountain could be erected. Architect Jakob Tigges however doesn’t regard the idea to be a serious proposal. To Der Spiegel he says the idea is an unconstructive provocation that is meant to work a place-holder in the minds of the Berliners, until a solid idea for the site has been developed. The site shouldn’t be developed into another mediocre neighborhood, Tigges demands: there are many open spaces in the city better suited for that.
That is true. There are quite a number of empty plots in the center of the city. The city of Berlin is far from being complete. That is probably in part due to the fact that city has a name for being somewhat too big in relation to its population. The result is that there is not enough pressure from the market to fill each space in the city.
A concept Jakob Tigges probably could agree with pops up at the end of the article in Der Spiegel: “[…] there was once a proposal to convert the space into a luxury medical clinic for the rich and famous, complete with landing strips for private planes. Ronald Lauder of the Estee Lauder fortune stood ready to invest €350 million for a huge health and wellness center that he felt would draw international patients seeking privacy during plastic surgery and other procedures. He may have been right, seeing as how the airport has attracted stars such as the Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich in the past. Yet the plan never came to fruition.”