Surprising leisure opportunities in an unusual location

Surprising leisure opportunities in an unusual location

In Lindlar in the Oberbergisches Land, the :metabolon project is an innovative learning and adventure landscape for the whole family. The "transparent landfill" – an educational experience destination.

The flagship project is not only innovative, but visionary. Situated on a landfill site, :metabolon is a unique leisure and recreation complex with unconventional attractions. But :metabolon is more than just that. It is a place where leisure meets learning and waste management meets cutting-edge research. It is a "transparent landfill".

 

From landfill to innovation centre

 

At a time when resources are becoming scarce, :metabolon is dedicated to material conversion and to environmental technologies and techniques. Hence the term "resource management": metabolon derives from "metabolism". The project is intended to provide answers to such questions as: How are we to manage our resources sustainably in the future? Which waste materials can be used, for example as renewable energy sources? Which other ways are there to recycle waste? Which developments and trends in waste management will take place over the years and decades ahead? How can landfill sites be redeveloped through revitalisation of the landscape? The solution offered by the project is the innovative use of the landfill site as a learning and adventure landscape.

:metabolon was created as part of the Regionale 2010, a structural programme organised by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia that has made it possible to attract extensive funding. Following a student design workshop held in May 2006, which provided the first outlines of an overall concept for a subsequent use of the landfill site – both in terms of its content and layout – a pan-European competition was launched with 20 participants. This was won by the team of planners FSW LA Landschaftsarchitekten and pier7 architekten whose joint design was awarded a special distinction from the Federation of German Landscape Architects in North Rhine-Westphalia in the form of the Landscape Architecture Prize 2012

The project is based on five pillars: the Bergisch Energy Competence Centre, the place of learning, the research community, a sustainable industrial estate as well as leisure, recreation and culture. With the Bergisch Energy Competence Centre, :metabolon brings together knowledge about renewables, climate protection and environmentally-friendly renovation at a single location. Advice on energy can be obtained free of charge. As a place of learning and adventure, its flying classroom and shuttle service offer an ideal opportunity for classes of schoolchildren to integrate waste separation, energy awareness and climate protection in their curriculum. Together with the “Little Scientists' House” association, it offers further training for kindergarten employees. It is also possible for young people to spend a voluntary ecological year here. As a competence centre for environmental technology and renewable sources of energy, it attracts experts from Germany and abroad and is a teaching and research centre of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. While as a sustainable industrial estate, the site includes a biomass farm and an eco-industrial park. The leisure opportunities in an unusual location are a crowd puller for the project.

 

Conception of the play and movement area

 

The idea underlying the play and movement area was to return the landfill site to the citizens, and to make it accessible for play, experience and adventure. To that end, the landfill hill was filled up with bottom ash and raised to 348 m above sea level. However, the following was to be clearly recognisable: the new "mountain" of the Bergisches Land is an artificially created one that stands out from the natural environment thanks to its black tarpaulin. The hilltop has thus become a landmark for the surrounding area that blends perfectly into the landscape.

The cycling and hiking trail concept networks the landfill site with the area around it. The handling of waste is thematised in a very specific way on :metabolon and, in terms of design, is implemented using elements developed especially for the site. In addition to a large mountain bike track, there are a number of special attractions, such as the long hill slide that commences at the peak of the hill. Technical items that can normally be found in landfill and plant technology have been refunctioned to create a playground for the youngest children at the foot of the hill.

The leisure attractions on offer all have one thing in common: they benefit in a particular way from the outstanding characteristics of the location, namely the slope and the vast extent of the area. These include the 110 m long slide, mountain biking, Segway, paragliding, lama trekking and GolfCross. With its deck chairs, the viewing platform on the landfill hill tempts visitors to linger, and those who want to gain an even better view can do so easily on a trampoline. In good weather, they can see as far as the Siebengebirge (Seven Hills) and, in the other direction, even Cologne Cathedral.

During their stay on :metabolon, visitors use the great amount of information regarding energy saving, recycling or heat insulation that they receive for free in the Bergisch Energy Competence Centre. A short visit to the landfill hill is facilitated by the recycling trail that covers the route to the hill and the puzzles and exhibits deposited in the grey waste containers along it.

 

Key features in planning and execution

 

Politicians and the local population were closely involved in the implementation of the :metabolon project. As a Regionale 2010 project, it profited from good networking right from the outset and uses the attention drawn to it to boost its profile.

The project is constantly growing and promoting innovative ideas. As it enjoys good transport connections beyond the region, it draws in many visitors and enriches both regional and national tourism. And as an exceptional venue for cultural events, such as the concert by the Oberberg Symphony Orchestra in summer 2013, :metabolon is increasingly making a name for itself.

Most of the attractions offered on the site are free. Visitors only have to pay for those that can be booked via external operators. For those attractions, cooperation agreements have been specially concluded with players in the tourism industry.

 

Resonance in everyday life

 

While it is not possible to record the actual number of visitors, the large attendances at events speak for themselves: about 10,000 visitors came to the opening on 25 September 2011 and in 2013 alone, the number of visitors counted was at least 25,000. Politicians such as North-Rhine Westphalia environment minister Johannes Remmel take every invitation to the landfill site as an opportunity to admire the innovative project. Especially at weekends, the landfill site has become a popular destination for excursions. And of course there is the bistro for those who get peckish. Thus it is that within a very short time indeed :metabolon has become a showcase project for the region. (www.metabolon.de)

 

 

Photography: Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsverband (www.metabolon.de), Klaus Brandhuber, FSWLA Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH

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