If you’ve experienced a delayed flight then you’ve stared out the window of a departure lounge, at the planes and baggage handlers, daydreaming about where you’d rather be and what you’d rather be doing.

In those dull moments, when you’re not running for a gate or sedating yourself in the food court, it’s the size of a major airport that really hits you.

Hundreds of acres of hugely valuable land, all perfectly flat, and located right next door to an exciting city – how much fun could you have racing your push bike down the runways? Or picnicking on the grassy strips with your friends, drinking and barbecuing, looking up at all that open sky. If only you could get rid of the annoying aircraft taking off and landing all the time.

It’s difficult to imagine, but this dream came true in Germany’s capital, when the Tempelhof airfield in Berlin was handed over to locals back in 2010.

Repurposed from famous airport, with Nazi and Cold War history, into the biggest park in the city

Repurposed from famous airport, with Nazi and Cold War history, into the biggest park in the city, Berliners wasted no time in coming up with fresh uses for the 300 hectares of communal area. Today, instead of noisy aircraft and gnarly traffic jams, the Tempelhof Projekt has become mega popular with everyone from young families, yoga enthusiasts, urban gardeners, kite-flyers, rollerbladers, joggers and slackers.

Some of the remaining buildings, which include glamorous Nazi-era terminals, and a hanger so big it’s claimed to be the largest covered structure in the world, are still in use too. The police rent some rooms, there’s a kindergarten, and a dance school, along with around 1,000 other small businesses.

Elsewhere in the ghostly spaces that were once used by the Allies in WWII, Tempelhof has played host to fashion shows, product launches and music concerts and festivals. “Berlin is a pioneer in re-using buildings that were left after the division of the city,” project chief Gerhard W Steindorf told The Guardian. “Tempelhof has a raw charm that people like.”

Image: Locals chilling on the Tempelhof airfield, an urban renewal project in Berlin that’s really, ahem, taken off.


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