The Stadtteilgarten Schillerkiez community gardens are a constantly evolving, collectively organized project located on the site of Berlin's abandoned Tempelhof Airport. Since the airport closed in 2008, after 74 years of service, the German government has not proposed any development of the land. Instead, a number of temporary experimental projects and installations have taken place on the grounds, and the Stadtteilgarten Schillerkiez has proven to be one of the most enduring. The gardens are free, open to the public and and provide a friendly space to meet people, read, partake in any number of events, and even grow your own vegetables.
These gardens are visited daily by a truly diverse range of people who come to enjoy the vast, open space provided by the abandoned airport site. Blooming under the Tempelhofer Freiheit umbrella, this initiative is for people to experience ‘the countryside without ever having to leave the city’.
The structures within the improvised urban oasis are built from an array of found and recycled materials, with pallets transformed into benches and shopping carts converted into compost bins. Benches and raised beds organize the vast space into small allotments where members of the gardens can grow vegetables and simply sit back and relax.
Digging in Tempelhof’s grounds is completely forbidden, as no one knows what’s sits beneath the soil, but we do know that the airport was used as a military base. With the content of the soil uncertain, and future uses of the land unknown, members of the gardens grow their food inside the movable, makeshift raised beds.
The gardens are collectively organized, and through this structure of shared responsibility the space becomes a platform for debate and creative actions. There is a schedule of themed events and regular discussions on subjects such Berlin’s increasingly rising rents. As well as sharing seeds, knowledge and some idyll time, members of the garden even brought a large pile of earth to share with their allotment-neighbors.
Tempelhof’s ‘Stadtteilgarten Schillerkiez’ demonstrates that you don’t need to leave the city to enjoy the luxury of an open-space.
Photo © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat