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15.04.2021 - Ausgabe: 2/2021

About the luck of finding a treasure

By Maik Böhmer (Planorama Landschaftsarchitektur)

© Hanns Joosten / ESF Emsland Spiel- und Freizeitgeräte GmbH & Co KG

A good hour's drive from Nuremberg and Würzburg, the small Middle Franconian town of Wassertrüdingen at the foot of the Hesselberg mountain offers everything one could expect from a Franconian rural idyll. As the smallest municipality which has ever applied for a horticultural show, the town of 6,000 inhabitants mastered this major festival in 2019 with flying colours and created a total work of art with an unforgettable impact.

With its contribution to the open space planning competition, the Berlin office Planorama Landschaftsarchitektur was able to convince the expert judges in 2015. They won the first prize and were thus awarded the contract for planning the entire site, which covers about 14 hectares. Within four years, a show was to be planned and realised under the following motto "About the Luck of Finding a Treasure". The show was visited by around 340,000 interested visitors which was a big success for both the city and the region. 

The special feature in Wassertrüdingen is the spatial division of the garden show grounds into two separate areas, each covering about 7 hectares. Between the two one can have a walk through the old town. To the south, directly in front of the historic old town centre, there is the Wörnitzauen Park. About one kilometre away, on the northern edge of the city, one finds the second Klingenweiherpark. The spatial separation and the qualities found in the respective places have created two very different spaces.

In addition to the main goal of offering paying visitors a convincing and varied event during the five-month garden show, the funding programmes of the EU, the federal government and the federal states primarily pursued lasting and sustainable development goals, even though the respective goals of the two sub-areas were inherently different. 


Wörnitzauen Park - Playing by the water

In the area of the Wörnitzaue, the background was based on a decision by the Ansbach Water Management Office to build permanent structural flood protection for the town, which was already in the course of being implemented out to the north and south of the town. In the sensitive old town area, however, a solution had to be found that would fit into the overall spatial situation in the best possible and most unobtrusive way without creating negative consequences for the townscape. 

Planorama Landscape Architecture managed to develop a convincing solution by constructing an earth dyke that is, however, hardly visually noticeable. The special feature is the relocation of a section of the Wörnitz (a Danube tributary) to its historical bed in order to increase the flow length of the watercourse here and thus enable a natural and barrier-free fish ladder in the sense of the European Water Framework Directive. This made it possible to develop a new peninsula on which the terrain gradients were stretched so that the dyke function visually disappeared. Romantically situated in front of the motif of the town mill and sawmill at the new mill pond, a completely new park area has thus been created directly at the city area and now available for both residents and visitors. 

In consistence with the main topic, a near-natural water playground was built on the shores of the peninsula. The area is characterised by natural materials such as river pebbles of different sizes that recreate a natural-looking beach on which a wooden catfish is stranded. The approximately five-metre-long wooden sculpture in the abstract form of the fish invites visitors to climb and balance. From the upper "back" you can listen to the rippling of the Wörnitz River while you are looking over the species-rich meadows of the protected areas - where storks forage for food - to the lush forests of the Oettinger Forestry. 

Furthermore, the peeled logs left over from the previous clearing work and individual stepping stones in the river are great for jumping and frolicking around. In the summer heat, the cool water is a welcome refreshment. The children can playfully train their sensory and motor skills here in the midst of nature in a completely natural and unspecified way and are enabled to constantly redesign the area together with the river. 

For the older ones, there are permanently installed wooden loungers close to the shore available as well as several large swings which are arranged around the peninsula.


Klingenweiherpark - play experience under trees

In the Klingenweiher area, the visitor dives into a wild natural landscape defined by three ponds of different sizes as relics of abandoned clay pits. The topography plays an important role in this part of the garden show and thus shapes the sequence of spaces. The connecting element is the striking pond walkway set in a golden shell. 

The overall architectural sculpture works its way in an expressive form over a length of about one kilometre from the largest of the three ponds up to the top of the former earth and rubble dump, which now resembles a Japanese garden after its redesign. The area was developed in the medium term as a new neighbourhood park for the surrounding residential quarters, which are gradually being developed. 

In the southern area of Klingenweiherpark, set between Weiherdamm and the Schwarzkopf housing estate of the hair care products manufacturer from the 1950s, lies the newly created forest playground. At the beginning of planning, the area was characterised by a park-like setting of the residential buildings with extensive manicured lawns, interspersed with magnificent and old individual trees. The view is limited by the approximately three-metre-high pond dam, which encloses the space on two sides; the area of today's forest playground appeared as a rather desolate lawn playground. 

The permanent aim was to create a playground here for the housing estate and the new residential quarters that would be attractive and usable for all age groups. For the duration of the garden show, the playground was directly adjacent to the main catering area: while the parents dined, the little ones could be observed while playing and frolicking around. What remained after the show is a wonderful playground, embedded in the park landscape under old trees, some of which are directly integrated into the area.  

The design, thematically adapted to the location, was elaborately designed and developed by Planorama using analogue and 3D models on the computer. After the contract was awarded, the design was further developed together with the company Emsland Spiel- und Freizeitgeräte GmbH & Co.KG in cooperation with Martin Langner Spiel- und Freiraumobjekte and refined in compliance with applicable standards and requirements of the city. The remaining, short period of time between the award of the construction contract and the opening date of the garden show was also particularly challenging. From autumn 2018 to the opening in May 2019, only a few months remained in which all the equipment had to be developed, built and installed. 

The theme of the formative vertical trunks was taken up and translated into a pole architecture that is used throughout as the holding structure of the individual play equipment and at the same time blends wonderfully with the surroundings. 

As a second design level, four different shades of green were defined to connect all the units, which, together with wooden surfaces and natural tones, form an artificial connection with the surrounding canopy of leaves and the green of the lawn and unite all the units. 

The large area, finished with light-coloured fall protection gravel, accommodates a total of ten play objects of different sizes, which are placed between, on and around the trees; the old tree population provided shade on hot summer days from the very beginning. In addition to a group of small "forest mushrooms" as sloping, wobbling and rotating balancing discs, various climbing bars and swings as well as a climbing combination with a "wobbling forest", the tree house and the tree layer tower with tunnel slide are the highlights of the playground. 

Seating and climbing platforms are installed around the trees for resting and observing. 

Unfortunately, a large slope slide that was also planned finally fell victim to cost-cutting.  

Nevertheless, a wonderful, individual playground was created that will remain permanently after the garden show and offers all age groups in the neighbourhood an attractive place to communicate and learn. The individuality of the design clearly enhances the neighbouring housing estate and creates an address that is recognised in the urban space.


Further information:

Company Planorama Landschaftsarchitektur

Sprengelstraße 15, D-13353 Berlin


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