Logistics under Construction: Mobility and Standstill in the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport Region

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearch


  • Franziska Baum
  • Patrick DeDauw
  • Carmen Grimm
  • Laura Lambert
  • Žiga Podgornik-Jakil
  • Fabian Stark
  • Mira Wallis
A »key mobility hub«, the »gateway« to Eastern Europe, and an »economic growth engine« for Brandenburg – these are some of the buzzwords used to promote Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER), which has missed more than four official opening dates since 2012. The fantasy of smooth logistical operations has collapsed into logistics' biggest nightmare: it is standing still. This friction between logistical visions and their actualization is the starting point of our collaborative research project: What happens to a logistical space in the making when the development of its main hub, BER airport, is standing still? How is the region produced and reproduced as a logistical city? What kind of infrastructure emerges? And which people and goods become mobilized and immobilized in these processes? We argue that while BER construction is standing still, different processes of (im-)mobilization take place, enabled or disabled through a web of infrastructures that make up the logistical city: the cascading collapse of multiple capital investment horizons that were dependent on the airport’s now-stalled construction (1); the daily commute of Polish workers to the nearby freight village (GVZ Großbeeren) to ensure the much-needed supply of cheap and flexible labor (2); the visa-free travel of international businesspeople to an airport-adjacent trade-show facility (BECA) (3); alongside asylum-seekers detained at – and migrants deported from – the new airport (4); the interrupted dreams for social mobility on the part of inhabitants of Kosmosviertel – a district at the periphery of BER (5); and, again as a consequence of construction falling behind schedule
and the failed blueprints of politicians, the indefinite wait of refugees held in the closed Tempelhof airport buildings awaiting transfer to proper housing (6). In the epilogue, we reflect upon the words we found and the encounters we had during our fieldwork in the seemingly subjectless research field of logistics (7). The article thus follows the different sites and stages of a collaborative and multi- sited research project, mapping out the multiple dimensions of (im)mobility in the Berlin-Brandenburg airport region.
Original languageGerman
JournalBerliner Blätter
Issue number78
Pages (from-to)27-55
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 10.2018