The Tegel Comeback
I'm writing this at Berlin's Tegel airport, waiting for my flight home to Heathrow. Only I shouldn't be here. I should be in the new, gleaming Brandenburg International airport on the other side of Berlin. Only I'm not, because the 2nd. of June closure date for Tegel has come and gone and Brandenburg still isn't finished or open. This isn't the first time Tegel's doom has been postponed, the airport was originally slated to close in November 2011, only it didn't because Brandenburg wasn't finished or open. Currently Tegel is slated to close sometime in March 2013, whether that comes to pass or not is a matter of speculation.
There's a lot to like about Tegel; it's small and efficient, each gate has a security and passport control section and you can get from plane to taxi in under a minute on a good day; try doing that at Heathrow.
As Hans Krause, an associate of David Chipperfield Architects in Berlin puts it ...
It’s a unique concept that avoids so much of what irritates people about other airports. It has a clear structure, extremely short walking distances and makes great use of daylight. As a concept, it works incredibly well.
Amen to that sentiment and, coincidentally, the postponement of Tegel's closure has caused Amen, one of Berlin's many tech startups, to feature the airport in one of their ad campaigns, calling it the best comeback this year.
I also managed to get a very Tegel specific souvenir on this trip, from April's Pro Race TXL, a speed walking relay race, with suitcases, around the airport. I kid you not. This is Berlin after all, where quirkiness is almost mandatory. In a nice twist on the I Heart style of tee-shirt, this is an I Hex TXL tee-shirt.
Which makes sense if you've ever been to Tegel and if you haven't, a satellite view of the terminal will explain the hexagonal connection.
So whilst Tegel's demise has merely been postponed, it's good that the airport still lives and breathes, for now at least and as I wait for my flight home I can almost believe Pro Race TXL's hyperbole laden pronouncement that it's
astonishingly efficient and a structure of geometric beauty, Flughafen Tegel is known among Berliners and international travelers as the greatest airport of all time, space and dimension
Amen to that too.