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Berlin’s Tempelhofer Feld: A Case Study of Collective Development of Urban Spaces in the 21st century

Thursday, April 27, 16.30, Auditorium 1
The question of what to do with an open field at the former Berlin-Tempelhof Airport, located right in the centre of the city, had been discussed by the capital city’s citizens since 2008. The government position, which advocated construction on the field, clashed with citizens‘ preference for a public park with a variety of cultural, ecological and social projects. This situation led to a referendum, where the challenge was to engage the local community and inspire the city – without money and with only volunteer help.
This case study will focus on practical approaches for getting in touch with your community, holding public discussions and dealing with risks as well as with the massive potential of participation and direct democracy.


Key words: public spaces, urban development, gentrification, participation, communal decision, grassroots, direct democracy


Esther Witt/Germany

While Esther studied English Philology and Comparative Literature, she also worked in various social projects in Berlin, England and Spain in the social-political context. As of 2013, she has been part of the core team that organized the 2014 referendum about the Tempelhofer Feld, supporting social media, helping to develop the campaign, training new volunteers and organizing events. One project was the Tempelhofer Feld Edition of Pharrell’s “Happy”.