Canopy Roof and Tarmac, Tempelhof Airport

Tempelhof Berlin was built in classic Nazi “monumental”style.

Canopy Roof and Tarmac, Tempelhof Airport, Berlin 2010

© Leslie Hossack

Nazi government buildings such as Tempelhof Airport were generally built in a monumental style designed to intimidate the individual and exalt the state. Sometimes, two different styles were used in the same structure. The street side of Tempelhof has an imposing classic appearance, while the airfield side, with its steel gate construction, looks modern and almost transparent.

Inside the airport, the huge departure hall is 1.2 km long. Outside, the flight gates are covered by a canopy-style roof to protect passengers from the elements. These flight gates and the projecting steel roof form an enormous semicircular apron that was designed to resemble an eagle in flight with outspread wings. The roof of the main airport hall was built to support bleachers to allow up to 65,000 spectators to watch flight demonstrations, but the stands were never completed.

The plane in this photograph is the last one at Tempelhof. It sits alone on the tarmac in stark contrast to the time when the airport was the busiest in the world. Tempelhof was the site of the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift when the Soviet authorities closed off Berlin. The Western Powers sustained the city by providing essential supplies by air, landing at the rate of one plane every three minutes. Later, during the Cold War, Tempelhof was the main terminal for American planes accessing Berlin.

Tempelhof Airport was officially closed on October 30th, 2008, and it is still awaiting news of its fate. In May 2010, the outfield at Tempelhof was opened as Berlin’s largest public park and named “Tempelhofer Feld.”

Architect: Ernst Sagebiel          Date: 1935-1941

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