At the former Tegel Airport on the outskirts of Berlin, Germany, workers keep uncovering bombs. The residue of the Prussian military and two world wars lingers at the 495-hectare site, which became home to city’s main airport in the 1970s, before it fell out of favor and closed in 2020. When the airport was built, land used for runways and around three meters either side were cleared, while other areas were left. Since May 2021, over 10 tons of explosives and ammunition have been moved or safely detonated from 20 hectares.
But unlike the antique ordnance, Tegel will not lie dormant for long. Because its hulking brutalist terminal, winding corridors – even its flight control tower – have already found a new purpose. Thanks to an €8 billion ($7.9 billion), multi-decade investment, it’s on a path to become one of the most ambitious smart cities in Europe.
The project, dubbed Berlin TXL, has been designed as a climate-friendly community full of sustainable technologies, with integrated university campus and innovation hubs to propel these technologies into the future. It’s pitched as the next chapter in urban living that wants to write the chapters after that too.
Who thinks, on the 40th anniversary of Epcot Center, Walt Disney would be proud…
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