Pratt Institute, New York
18 July - 5 August 2011
To study the history of Tempelhof Airport is to trace decisive moments in German and Berlin history: From its use as an experimental airfield in the 19th century, through the dramatic events during the 1948–49 airlift, to the large-scale international landscape and urban design competition held in 2009, the “Tempelhofer Feld” reflects glory and abyss of German ingenuity and political stance.
While there has been much speculation, many informal ideas and formal design proposals for the airfield since the airport was closed in 2008, very little attention has been given to the Tempelhof Airport building itself. This neglect can appear puzzling given the enormous historic, symbolic and spatial presence of the structure. It is one of a few pure-bred fascist buildings and, given its size and programmatic specificity, poses many challenges, so that any engaged discourse will aim to question its uncontested landmark status.
We consider the building’s challenges a great opportunity that makes the old terminal building and its adjacent ground an ideal testing ground for architecture and energy futures. Its conditions pose an exceptional opportunity for speculative ecological scenarios that play out at the intersection of building and landscape, structure and field, occupation, recreation and production.
The Pratt Berlin 2011 projects develop alternate uses for the Tempelhof Airport Terminal. The research addresses several key issues, including current programmatic, social, and technological needs within the city of Berlin. Proposed programs include a Living Material Research Facility, a Media Lab Berlin, an Institute for Urban Farming, a Sports Complex and more. Every project generates a unique pliable syntax of spatial, structural, and material responses, which engage the physical and cultural realities of Tempelhof Airport.
Pratt Berlin is an international summer programme at Pratt Institute, School of Architecture. The programme is run by Jonas Coersmeier who teaches in collaboration with Gisela Baurmann and Justin Snider.