Berlin – Tempelhof: Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development

Sustainable Urban Development

Berlin – Tempelhof: Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development

The former Tempelhof airfield. A laboratory for future development. Through the People’s Act of Tempelhof airfield that future is now possible: to emphasize the uniqueness of Tempelhof airfield to continue and to give a clearly visible pulse for participation put into practice.

In 2006 Berlin has already formulated the guiding principle of sustainable development with the Local Agenda 21. After 9 years thereof is only little measurable (key indicators for the sustainable development of Berlin 2014). In general it is only a few exceptions (e.g. EUREF) but still less noticeable or even experienced.

With the “Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development”, which was written at a basic idea in 2006 and developed by the German Federal Association for Sustainability together with initiatives and partners, should this be more noticeable: to forward and to ultimately make possible sustainable development the Berliners have to be motivated for sustainable action and be involved in concrete terms. Sustainable action works on their own experience, involvement and practical knowledge through trial and error, e.g. here: → Tempelhof Vision


Two main areas are intended for the Centre of Excellence:

1. The former airport building

In the building a campus would be formed with an university cluster for basic research of Berlin universities which already are dealing with sustainable development. This research cluster is enriched by universities outside of Berlin to stimulate the Berlin basic research either thematically or by special expertise, support, and thus can contribute to the global dissemination of research.

A particular challenge basically represents the conversion of basic research into practical, application-oriented products or technologies. Therefore the range for basic research is supplemented by a business cluster which operates on this campus both in applied research and prototyping. In Berlin alone, according to the Chamber of Commerce, hundreds of startups, small and medium-sized enterprises are engaged in sustainable development, of which almost only the experts know.

2. The former Tempelhof airfield

Together with the ensemble of the airport building Tempelhof airfield seems to be made for a unique European “Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development”. It is an integral part of a development cycle that is the initial point for a city-wide, Germany-wide, Europe-wide, Global development of Berlin towards a “Capital for Sustainable Development”.

The Tempelhof airfield plays a special role in this concept. With its structure and the now existing legal framework it provides ideal conditions for testing the application and for the feedback regarding ideas, technologies, products and services developed inside the building. This is where the expertise of the citizens comes to practical relevance.

Therefore, according to § 7 para. 2 of the People’s Act defined areas of the exterior meadow ring should be temporaryly used as a showcase with Expo character including so-called pioneer projects. Through clear installations and showpieces leisure and sports can be combined with learning and application experience, inspiration, the possibility of feedback and the direct involvement in sustainable development for a wide range of public.

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