Dezeen Magazine

Berlin Tempelhof airport aerial view

Berlin residents block Tempelhof airport plans

News: Berliners have voted against the development of the former Tempelhof airport site, securing its future as a public park.

Berlin residents voted in a referendum on Sunday, with the results overturning the city government's plans to use almost a third of the site to build 4,700 homes.

The referendum was the culmination of a campaign by local residents, and almost half of Berlin's 2.5 million eligible voters turned out to cast their ballot. Over 64% voted in favour of keeping the land as a public park.

"We're pleased that Berliners joined us in choosing a new direction for the city's development," Michael Schneidewind, a board member of the grassroots organisation behind the campaign, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

"We want Berlin housing policy to focus less on new construction and more on making the most out of existing homes," said Schneidewind.

The airport was closed in 2008 and opened to the public in 2010 as leisure space, quickly becoming popular with kite flyers, cyclists and rollerbladers who take advantage of the 386 hectares of tarmac runways and green space.

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City officials proposed the housing development to tackle the city's burgeoning population.

First built in the 1920s near the centre of the German capital, Tempelhof airport was redesigned by the Nazi party in the 1930s.

It was famously used during the Berlin blockage between 1948 and 1949 to airlift supplies to citizens cut off from the Western Allies by Soviet forces, who blocked land and water access to the west section of the city.

Berlin has seen a number of new buildings and regeneration projects over the past few months.

Among these plans, the Alexanderplatz public square and transport hub is set to receive a J Mayer H-designed shopping centre that will offer indoor skydiving and surfing, while Frank Gehry has won a competition to design a tower that will become the city's tallest building.

Tempelhof's vast hangers are set to host the annual DMY Berlin design fair, which starts tomorrow.