Auf Wiedersehen, Tempelhof

Auf Wiedersehen, Tempelhof

Today, the iconic Tempelhof International Airport in Berlin – once described by Norman Foster as “the mother of all airports” – will close forever.

Berliner Flughäfen/Archiv)
Tempelhof in 1962 with aircraft on the apron (source: Berliner Flughäfen/Archiv)

Although the airport has been operation in some for over 80 years, it is the absolutely huge scale and striking form of the terminal building, conceived by German architect Ernst Sagebiel between 1934-1936 (based on Albert Speer’s masterplan), that resonates with me. The audacity of the 50+ metre cantilevered roof arc over the terminal and the clarity of the functional diagram are still, despite of any Nazi undertones, to be applauded architecturally. Templehof is the forerunner and exemplar of today’s super-sized terminal buildings designed by Foster, Piano and Rogers et al. Hugh Pearman points out:

(Tempelhof) was designed to last until the year 2000. Somewhat surprisingly, it has. It is the only major airport in the world to have remained virtually unchanged over more than 60 years. What can it teach us? ¹

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