One of the largest natural parks in an urban area in Europe evolved from a former artificial basin in Bucharest (HU). Since it was abandoned in 1989, nature has taken over the area without any human intervention, resulting in a range of different landscapes. The northern edge is a grassy meadow with nut trees, poplars and elms. At its heart, there are three big lakes with characteristic wetland vegetation, such as willows, Johnson grass and water lillies. The Văcărești wetland area is thus emblematic of the resilience of nature.
The Landscape Park Duisburg Nord is located at the 200-hectare terrain of a former ironworks complex. This urban park has five functions: Neue Natur (protecting flora and fauna), Industrial museum, Volkspark (recreation), Abenteuerspielplatz (large playground) and Kulturforum (places of art and culture). The intention is for the park to develop slowly. So it is not ‘finished’. Latz + Partner came up with the basic design in 1991, and it gained great momentum during the International Architecture Exhibition (IBA). Characteristic of the design is that it makes use of the old complex. Bunkers, for example, were filled with old railway sleepers and covered with ferns. By paying attention to the site’s history and making it part of the renewal, the design is given a deeper meaning. The existing drainage canal, which in fact was an open sewer, was put underground and replaced with a new open canal that only drains clear (rain)water. The new canal is just as straight as the old one was. The designers wanted to show that the function of a ‘canal’ could change with time. Another intervention was not to remove the contaminated soil, but to let plants clean it instead. Heavily contaminated soil was locally stored in bunkers.
-DUISBURG-NORD (D) 1991
-LATZ + PARTNER
Philips Healthcare in Best has reserved a building site for future company expansions. For the meantime, a butterfly garden was realized at this location. This temporary nature will sooner or later make way for future developments. That this phenomenon is becoming increasingly popular is due to the Dutch state regulation ‘Temporary Nature’, which was implemented in 2015. Where previously owners of such areas were very reluctant because of the risk that future building plans could be blocked because of protected plant or animal species, they are now guaranteed free use of their land at locations this state regulation applies to. The terrain in Best is not only a rich biotope for plants and animals, but it is also good for the company. Dedicated employees helped sow the native flowers and plants that are attractive to butterflies. The Dwaaltuin (cottage garden), as the area is now being called, is a place they go to during their lunch breaks. Above all, the collaboration with the Vlinderstichting (Dutch Butterfly Conservation) has made the people working for the company aware of the power of nature and the biodiversity that can arise even in a short amount of time. This is important, because the biodiversity of butterflies has nearly been halved in Europe since 1990.
-BEST (NL) 2015 BEST (NL) 2015
-DE VLINDERSTICHTING, PHILIPS, ROYALHASKONING-DHV
Nature Park Schöneberger Südgelände is a good example of spontaneous nature on an industrial location. The former railway yard (from 1890) in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district had been left to nature in anticipation of a new destination since the 1950s. When plans were made to reuse the area, people started protesting. As compensation for projects around the Potsdamerplatz, Deutsche Bahn then donated 18 hectares of the terrain to the municipality of Berlin. In 1999, the site was declared a nature reserve. This does not mean it remained untouched from then on, though. With a few design interventions, respecting the wild, spontaneous situation, the area was opened to visitors, and a number of ecological characteristics were strengthened. The area is home to habitats with dry grassland, parts that are rich in herbs, and dense woods with birches and acacias. More than 95 wild bee species and 50 bird species were sighted here, and there are 350 rare plant species, including rare ferns and mushrooms. Elevated walkways were placed over the dry grassland to prevent it from being damaged because of the recreation. Volunteers help to maintain the park, for instance when the woods have to be thinned out. The former railway buildings in the park have cultural functions now and one is in use as a café. Remnants of the old steel structures and rails (with an old locomotive) are now scattered through the park as a reminder of the industrial past.
-BERLIN (D) 1998
-INGO KOWARIK AND ANDREAS LANGER
more info:website Stadtentwicklung Berlin
For a period of ten years, the site of the former shipyards De Ceuvel-Volharding in Amsterdam is home to workplaces, offices, workshops and a café. A winding jetty connects the different units. Under the jetty and between the units, there is a variety of vegetation, creating a biotope for insects, birds and small mammals. The economic crisis put an end to the plans for large-scale development on this terrain. The municipality of Amsterdam therefore put out a tender for ideas on how to use the location for a period of ten years. Contestants had to take into account that the soil of large parts of the terrain is contaminated with heavy metals. In the winning proposal, plants are used to clean the soil during this period. This technique—phytoremediation—uses specially selected plants that remove the metals from the soil and the groundwater. The vegetation is cut and removed for composting or burning. The raised boardwalk was placed to prevent people from coming into contact with the polluted soil, and to prevent them from trampling on the vegetation. In this temporary circular breeding ground, tenants are also experimenting with ways to grow food crops on the clean parts of the site. In an experimental installation, phosphates are extracted from urine and faeces, and the entire terrain now has a closed water system.
-AMSTERDAM (NL) 2012
-SPACE&MATTER, DELVA LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS, METABOLIC, WOUTER VALKENIER, MARJOLEIN SMEELE, JEROEN APERS METABOLIC CS
more info: De Ceuvel