Germany’s Nazi-era Tempelhof Airport is currently housing hundreds of refugees seeking safety and shelter. Last week, experts began to reimagine the space – just in time to help accommodate the expected arrival of 800,000 displaced people into the country this year.
The Tempelhof Airport was reconstructed by the Nazi government in the 1930s and ranked as one of the largest buildings in the world with over 3 million square feet of space. A stark decline over time led to its closing in 2008, yet the grounds were revived as a popular park for local residents. While voters shut down a 2014 referendum to convert the space into not-so-affordable housing, the airport seems to have found a better way to provide the community what it needs.
Last fall it was announced the space would be converted to hold up to 1,200 refugees escaping war in both the Middle East and North Africa and its mission is well underway, with a new expected capacity of 7,000 people. They have been living under tents in the airport’s hangar.
The airport, which has hosted different conventions and events, has benefited from changes in the law to expand how much space is available to refugees. Currently, the tents are separated into areas that can each accommodate 10 people. Cooking facilities do not exist yet and it’s necessary to take a bus to the tent where showers are available. Luckily, five new buildings are in the works to provide a kindergarten, school, sports area, and other needed facilities. The same law notes the temporary buildings must be removed by the end of 2019, however, so more permanent solutions for these individuals is still a concern.