/ Freiheit at Tempelhofer Feld

Proposal for a minimal, temporary work for 7 evenings in 2015 with two light lines and three story-sharing caravans.

Part I – Freiheit Light
Two lines of light following the landing fields at Tempelhofer Feld.

Freiheit Light invites the Berliners to explore Tempelhofer Feld for 7 evenings. The occasion is a strong, minimal gesture of two light lines, beaming along the old airstrips. The Freiheit Light offers a unique, generous opportunity to reflect about the’ parks distinctive scale and character – and to dream about its potentials.

Two light lines, defined by sharp laser, are drawn four meters over the two landing fields. The length of the line will in the context of the Tempelhofer Feld scale appear as an arch, underscoring the enormous dimension of the space and the relation to the sky of Berlin.

The light lines will appear different, reacting to the weather conditions. The lights are lit at dusk, where they are hardly visible. Slowly the lines will grow more visible in the dark. In dry weather, the lines will be thin, in humid conditions, substantially more powerful.

The two lines along the landing fields can be se seen as a subtle reference to the past – as lighting paths of memory and survival, relating to 70th year of the end of World War II.

As a temporary light installation, it refers to the temporality of places and memory. What has been in the past is still present – though not visible. And what is today, points to what is yet to come. The experience of the Freiheit Light will become a new, shared memory for the visitors and an image that will remain with the future Tempelhofer Feld.

Two lines of light following the landing fields at Tempelhofer Feld.

Part II – Freiheit Dreams
Share your dreams for Tempelhofer Feld in three story-sharing caravans.

Three caravans are placed by the main entrances, inviting people to enter and share their dreams about Tempelhofer Feld. Inside the caravans, the visitors are encouraged to share their dreams of Tempelhofer Feld, lasting up to one minute. The dreams are recorded and stored in a shared, democratic database of stories that can be accessed on-line. As you leave you story, name and email address, you will receive a link to your own dream – and be inspired to listen on and hear others’ dreams.

The caravan links to the limited and temporary architectural elements Tempelhofer Feld today. The caravan is also a familiar image of the dream about moving and travelling in an independent, yet unpretentious manner.

All the stories are stacked in an unhierarchical, democratic fashion. Every story is equal. But as a totality, they point to the collective dream Tempelhofer Feld. The individual dreams are being weaved together into a bigger, shared fabric of what the Berlin can contain and become. In the continuous string of personal narratives there might be deciphered common denominators – as signs of what an urban vision of freedom could be.

Part III – Freiheit Voices

Imagine an open and large exhibition space in Berlin with a large number of directional speaker hanging from the ceiling. Under each speaker, the audience will hear the individual berliners voice and dream. Every story is equal and point to the collective dream Tempelhofer Feld. In the exhibition space, as a whole, you will hear the sum of the collective dreams – the individual dreams are being weaved together into a bigger, shared sound of what the Berlin can contain and become.

A short historical summary

Berlin’s former “central airport” – now reopened as a public park – has a focal place in the history of the city and is a site for historical remembrance as well as dreams for the future.

Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof opened in 1923. At that time, the former drill ground on Tempelhofer Mark had long been a space for flight pioneers to experiment with hot air balloons and airplanes.

The current airport edifice was built in the years 1936-1941 from designs by Ernst Sagebiel. The monumental structure, which is still one of the world’s largest buildings with a 1.2 kilometre hangar arch, is an expression of the architectural ideology of the Third Reich. The axis of the building points in the direction of the national monument in The Viktoriapark, and the whole thing was to have been part of Albert Speer’s town plan for the world capital, Germania. During the war, parts of the airport buildings were used for arms production complete with barracks for forced labourers. Already in 1933, The Gestapo had established a prison in the northern part of the airport area near Columbiadamm, which became the concentration camp, ‘K. L. Columbia’, the following year.

Soviet troops occupied the airport in 1945 and made it over to the Americans, who established an airbase there until 1993. During the Cold War, Tempelhof became a symbol of liberty as the main airport for the air bridge during the Berlin blockade 1948-49, and as the scene of spectacular skyjackings and espionage activities. With its international civilian air traffic, which had also been resumed, the airport became a “port to the free world” for travellers to the West bypassing the border control at transit through the DDR. Turkish, Greek, and Yugoslavian ‘guest workers’ who sought a new life in West Berlin in the 1960s arrived via Tempelhof for the same reason.

In 2008, the airport was closed and reopened a few years later as the city’s greatest park. The long runways attract joggers, cyclists, and kite skaters. There are playgrounds, barbeque areas, and small yards with raised beds in wooden boxes and old bathtubs. In addition, large areas serve as nature reserves for birds, insects, and plant life.

When, at the referendum in May of 2014, the municipal government’s plan for partial development was met with an almost two-thirds majority vote against it, it was not only because of the magic of wide views and lark’s song in the middle of the city. Another important motivation was a rejection of city planning from above. In Berlin’s life story, freedom and self-determination have become central ideas, and in contemporary times, freedom has often been connected to the fallows of the city. With a perhaps over-hasty closure of the wounds from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the defence of the fallow fields of the airport may be a way to curtail the sell-out of dreams. Tempelhofer Feld constitutes a unique opportunity for reflection and development of ideas for the city of the future.