BERLIN TEMPELHOF – playground airport
Photo essay dedicated to a one-of-a-kind location: Berlin’s Tempelhof airport.
Or: what you get if you make an airport in the middle of a city, then take out all the airplanes, and then let the people run wild.
You can tattoo as many skulls as you want on your arms, buddy, but as long as you dress like a child and play with toys, you’re never going to look mean…
The runways still have all the original graphics, plus several new ones such as these hot pink ones.
You can bring you own bike, or you can rent one on the spot. In many spots, the grass growing back through the cracks in the tarmac.
The older the boys, the more expensive the toys. Affixing windsurf sails to longboard skateboards.
The runway surfaces are smooth as silk and perfectly aligned with the prevailing winds. Compared to windsurfing, the skateboard version is a little easier (the surface does not move as water does), but also more risky if you wipe out.
Airport-bicycle-water-ski-skateboarding. I’m sure there’s gotta be a better term to define this activity…
Some visit Tempelhof airport for the leisure, while others use the vast expanses for professional-style training. These rollerbladers were really clipping along…
Mad max, Berlin style. the sail propelling this contraption was one of the largest i have ever seen. Constant winds and lack of trees make tempelhof ideal for this type of activity.
Walking from one end of the runway to the other takes at least thirty minutes. How’s that’s for a decent-sized playground?
Some of the original graphics. Most are beginning to show signs of fading, while some others are still as good as new.
In one end of tempelhof, berliners have set up a communal vegetable patch for growing food, flowers and herbs of all kinds. Here we have a creative shopping kart waterpipe-patch, someone watering, someone roillerblading. All together, and to each his own.
This bench doubles as a map of tempelhof: the whole area is nearly circular in shape.
aArt, on a massive scale. Only in an airport playground. And only in Berlin. Beyond the sculpture, some of the green areas are cordoned off as several (real) birds nest there, directly on the ground.
More art on a very sunny day in june at Tempelhof.
Raised seating provides uncluttered views over the vast expanse.
This is Berlin’s Tempelhof, which can be easily googled for hard facts. Today it is as it was when closed down, several years ago. a massive semi-circular building now sits, apparently mostly unused, on one side of the airfield. But it is the goings-on inside, that really make this a unique place.
One area is reserved for barbecues, another hosts a huge children’s playground, built entirely out of recycled scraps of lumber. Another area is dedicated to raising plants, a small amphitheather hosts shows, a ferris wheel is being built out of wood. And again: skateboards of all sizes and bicycles with any number of gears can be rented for a couple of euros an hour, along with pedal-powered contraptions with anything from one wheel to some with six wheels. And then you have several kilometers of incredibly wide runways to knock yourself out.
Tempelhof airport is, simply put, a perfectly well-organized and self-regulated space capable of hosting tens of thousands of people at any one time. If you must go, do so soon. Posters pasted here and there say the city has grand plans for the area, which will be completely transformed by 2017.
Photo essay taken in june 2012.