Evolving role of Templehof Airport Berlin – 1930s Modernist Design

Evolving role of Templehof Airport Berlin – 1930s Modernist Design

Posted by Sophia Howell on

Berlin played a central role in European 1920s culture, yet little architecture from that period survives. Templehof airport is an exception; an example of 1930s modernist architecture that has evolved with the changing political and social landscape. 
Main Entrance - Templehof Airport today
Located a mere 15-minute bike ride south of the city centre in 1,000 acres of land, this monumental structure was part of Adolf Hitler’s vision to turn Berlin into a ‘world-capital’ city.

Templehof - Check in Hall 

The imposing building some 1.2km in length was designed by Ernst Sagebiel and is one of the few Nazi building projects to be realised. Its sweeping semi-circular form evoking an eagle in flight, enormous rectangular windows and façade adorned by a colossal eagle statue standing 4.5m tall, cast in iron and painted to look like bronze - Templehof was designed to impress.

Templehof Eagle Statue - removed in 1962  

Whilst Templehof was used for Nazi rallies, the war gradually slowed its development and Hitler’s grand plans for the site were never fully realised. At the end of the war, Templehof was handed to the Americans who used it as a military airport.


US Army planes bringing supplies to West Berlin, 1948 

The role of Templehof airport changed in 1948, when the Soviet’s cut off supplies to the 2-million inhabitants of West Berlin. The airport became a symbol of the free West as American troops air-lifted supplies to the besieged city.

Templehof semi-circular design - like an Eagle in flight 

In 1951 Templehof was opened to civil aviation. It was an active airport until 2008 when it finally closed its doors, replaced by the new Brandenburg Airport located to the west of Berlin.

Templehof windows

What role it plays next is not yet certain. Today the site is used for events and its grounds have been turned into a vast city park. While the iconic Templehof airport building awaits its next incarnation, it stands as a monument to renewal and reinvention in the ever-evolving German and world landscape.


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