Karina Nimmerfall
La Cité (Die Siedlung)

After the end of the Berlin

Airlift in 1949, Tegel Airport

in West Berlin became the

military base for the Armée de

l’Air, the French Air Force. In

order to house its military and

civilian members, the French

military started, at the beginning

of the 1950s, to build

entire neighbourhoods around

the base. These miniature cities

were designed in the tradition

of modernist, large-scale

planning and functioned completely

autonomously of the

city of Berlin, somewhat as

cities within cities. With German

re-unification and the deactivation

of the Allied Forces,

these small settlements were

abandoned in the early 1990s

by the French military and

then turned over to the German

Federal Agency, whose

attempts towards subsequent

re-use failed in most cases.

Cité Foch, built in different

stages between 1957 and the

1970s, contains more than 780

residential units, a large shopping

and recreational centre,

and educational as well as

entertainment facilities, and

was the largest of these developments.

It was also home to

the French Secret Service and

later the German Federal Intelligence

Service, who used the

transmission tower on this site

for its electronic intelligence

operations. After the end of

the Cold War, the complex

was sold to a private developer

and has stood neglected

for the last two decades. The

dilapidated buildings, suffering

from severe decay and

currently abandoned, face an

uncertain future. The film La

Cité shows the different configurations

of space through

its various layers of history.

Somewhere between document

and fiction, oral history

and urban myth, it engages

questions of the history of the

site and its politics, as well

as their conditions within the

past, present and, even, the

possible, near future.