Project type: Urban Planning


Location: Tempelhof Airport, Berlin, Germany


Time: 2009


Status: Competition, Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung Berlin


In Collaboration with Büro Kiefer Landschaftsarchitektur Berlin

In times of low investments in public buildings and housing as well as changing demands in dwelling and recreational spaces, the urban development of the Columbia quarter as an area of high value adjacent to well-functioning, integrated urban spaces has to be on a long-term and flexible basis. The main strategy is to develop an adaptable and alterable image of the city, which can expand at variable pace. In this process, the city never renders as unfinished, each and every phase offers qualities of its own. The result is a process-driven matrix in which all elements are benefiting from each other without dependencies. The urban quarter is growing according to the requirements of the city and its citizens. The principle “People build their own city” creates temporary uses out of unused potentials which in time can transform into permanent structures. While the concept of “extending the city”, is creating a connection to the adjacent urban fabric, a clear distinction is made to the existing buildings such as the monumental airport. While still respecting the large scale megastructure, a small-scale structure is placed as a contrast next to it, following the layout of the airport building.




Shifting the fences – creating identity

In the very beginning and with minimal financial effort, urban spaces can be opened for the public as temporary usable areas. A looping path defines the so called Pionierband, the pioneer band. First connections to the surrounding city are established by urban pioneers who feature for instance sports-facilities and Berlin-typical temporary uses such as cafés, exhibitions, clubs or restaurants. The pioneer band is designed as an urban playground for temporary uses. The existing buildings and areas such as softball fields or tennis courts are predominantly used. Additional temporary structures can be built, they can be removed and reused or recycled later on.


Quarter development

With an identity created for the area and a resulting increase in property value and a push on investment in the second phase, the Stadtband, a dense urban housing structure is developed. The aim is to strengthen the so far functioning quarters and their identities. The construction of the main access road which mostly follows the existing infrastructure is the basis for urbanizing allotments in the city band. Facilities for local supply, such as a kindergarten in one of the former softball fields, and the main building in the innovation field, a centre and agency of information and presentation about sustainability and community, are being built.



The last phase is covering the redensification. The Tempelhofer Promenade can now respond to new concepts for the airfield Tempelhof that have been produced due to the IGA and IBA conference and exhibition. The city band and adjacent quarters are merging, along the promenade new local centers can be developed, former temporarily used spaces are either expanded or transformed into permanent uses.


Landscape, public space and building structure



The public and landscape spaces consist of a gradation of diverse structural, landscape and urban spaces, a range from intensive to extensive, from public to private.


City space

Around the Columbiadamm, urban squares dominate the image of the city. While an urban centre with alleys, cafes and public uses is being developed along the Columbiadamm as a Boulevard, the urban structure in the north of it connects to the existing city by city blocks with private and community – used courtyards.


Pioneer band

The pioneer band is expanding along with the area. It starts as a meadow with islands of temporary uses in the existing structures and areas, then transforms gradually into a continuous urban forest, a mixed forest with domestic broadleaf trees and conifers. The archetype “meadow” is opposed to the archetype “forest”. Citizens of the quarter have the possibility to plant trees by themselves, thus transforming the forest into an indicator for the specific level of development of the area. A circulating, looping path creates together with trails shaped by the citizens an extensive public road and path network.



Following the linear figure of the Ringboulevard, a promenade is framing and staging the vastness of the former airfield. Pedestrian and bicycle zones as well as uses such as skating, seating or playground islands will be integrated into the promenade. Tree islands with pines as typical trees of the North-German plain create a local connection to nature. A public boulevard with both local and city-wide attractiveness to stroll and rest is generated with an urban beach along the grass ocean and a range of public uses.


Innovation field

The Innovatives Feld is an experimental housing development; the citizens have to most extend the freedom of aesthetic and typological choices. There is no catalogue of typologies as in the Stadtband, there is only a framing set of rules that has the coherence of the community, sustainability and a maximum height of buildings as a basis. Hence a wide range of options for a diverse development are kept open to support experimental and innovative housing ideas. New and already executed projects can be presented and discussed in the community center, transforming the airfield Tempelhof into a cutting-edge experimental settlement and a presentation platform for groundbreaking and sustainable housing concepts.


City band

Organized like barcode, the Stadtband provides the necessary climate exchange with the adjacent districts and interaction by interesting views into the grass ocean and vice versa. The dense building structure of the city band varies according to the desired height, market and investment demands in their typology, chosen from the variable and combinable typology catalogue. Bonus system and set of rules enable private investors and house builders to individually affect design and typology within the given framework.


Bioclimatic consideration and resource efficiency

In all phases, the focus lies on resource efficiency. Using existing structures and reusing them locally, developing concepts for independent supply and a holistic and sustainable principle in collaboration with the area’s inhabitants is the strategic foundation in the quarter. Investors in the dense city band structure can for instance seal off surfaces if they compensate those areas with green roofs. Energy-efficiency standards and solar collectors will be provided in the whole area.


To make these high technical standards affordable, it is intended to collaborate with companies, institutes and developers of sustainable techniques for field testing in the area, also to use only one system in the whole area for a better economic value. The biomass in the area is increased by green roofs, the city forest and the cultivation on the experimental field, the aim is to use the biomass in the modernized power plant. Car traffic is reduced to a minimum. Wherever possible, such as in the innovative field, there will be no car traffic at all. A continuous and efficient pedestrian and bicycle path network covers the whole area. Rain water will be collected in a central reservoir instead of individual cisterns and available for both private usage and the community, up-to-date economical tap water systems will be used in the whole quarter. Material from existing structures assigned for demolition will be recycled locally, such as the concrete airfield area which can be used as a bed of gravel for footpaths in the urban forest. Excavated material will be used for landscape shaping. The innovative field is intended to be the first self-sustaining settlement in an inner city context according to the DEUS21 principle – Decentral urban infrastructure system.