Article by Erin Tharp Storehouse City Münster, by scape Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH, in Münster, Germany Historical sites are often the hardest to work with, due to the cultural or societal significance they hold. So when scape Landschaftsarchitekten was asked to redesign the 3.9-hectare area outside of the Storehouse City in Münster, a former German army pension office, they knew they had a delicate task at hand. The renovation they came up with is both thoughtful and reminiscent of what the site once looked like, but is not an exact replica. They wished to bring the site into the modern era to make it a more viable space for both the people who now work there and for the public that visits.
Storehouse City Münster
Located to the north of Münster, the site is considered a conservation area due to the significant role it played for the German military during World War II (1939-1945) as the central location for food storage and distribution for all of Northwestern Germany. At its peak, the building housed a central bakery that produced up to 30,000 loaves of bread every day. After the war, it housed the British occupying army. Today, the storehouses are home to office buildings and are often used for special events.
Reflecting the Architectural Style
These buildings are massive remnants of the architectural style of the Nazis in the 1930s, with simple and what some might describe as plain facades. To emphasize this architectural style, scape Landschaftsarchitekten knew that the surrounding landscape must also be simple and not be in contradiction with the historical buildings.With this in mind, they thought long and hard about how to rework the existing green space to make it both more modern and sculptural, but also more in line with the architecture. The existing topography was already sloped due to the loading ramps that flanked the buildings, so designers decided to work with the land rather than against it. They reworked the contours to create a Grassland Sculpture bordered with continuous Corten steel bands, or as they call them, “cheeks.” This central area flows from +100 cm down to +5 cm, with a central path for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The path replaces the former train track that led to the bakery, and stretches between the edges, allowing visitors access to the green space. Lining this path are rows of cherry trees, perhaps planted for their symbolism of the fragility and beauty of life, with benches underneath. In the spring, mass plantings of crocuses and daffodils are a welcome sight after the cold of winter. At the center of the design is a natural stone square, meant to be reminiscent of the original basalt stone that still remains in surrounding areas. This area is also lined with a steel border, which helps to bring the two spaces together. Designers were careful to not alter the existing paving due to its historical significance, and instead sought to expand it to maintain uniformity. To further reinforce the history of the place, designers included a concrete platform to display the locomotive that once serviced the storehouse. Since the buildings are used both during the day and night, the designers were forced to put some serious thought into the lighting scheme. They designed the lighting system around the axial alignment of the site and took care to illuminate not only the new elements, such as the cherry trees, but also the historical elements throughout. For example, the lighting for the bakery façade is the most noticeable — as the designers intended — due to its historical significance and relevance to the Storehouse City as a whole.
The Importance of Keeping the Views Clear
Views into the space have been kept clear to allow visitors to view the Storehouse City as they approach, which adds to the openness and reflective nature of the site. Once inside, the landscape is very calm and uncluttered, meant to invite visitors to reflect on the past of the German army and on the effect the Nazis had on this area.One could argue that a site like this one, so marked by a dark and painful past, should be destroyed and not renovated or preserved. But I would argue that it’s more important to rework these spaces so that the light of the future can replace the darkness of the past. Scape Landschaftsarchitekten did a masterful job of doing just that, by creating a space that has whispers of the past but still has a nod to modern Germany and the obstacles she has overcome as a country. By renovating instead of restoring or preserving, the designers were able to accomplish this lofty goal and create a space where visitors can reflect on both the mistakes of the past and on the endless possibilities of the future — which is what makes designs such as this one so successful. What are your thoughts? Should we work to preserve the menacing pieces of history as well as the good? Let us know in the comments below! Go to comments
Full Project Credits For Storehouse City Münster
Project Name: Storehouse City Münster Landscape Architects: scape Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH (Matthia Funk, Hiltrud M. Lintel, Prof. Rainer Sachse) Project Leader: Hiltrud M. Lintel Co-workers: Judith Heimann, Sven Herrmann, Ariane Wendt, Bernd Nengel, Yingying Zhu Client: Westfälisch-Lippische Vermögensverwaltungsgesellschaft mbH Location: An den Speichern 3, 48157 Münster – Germany Architects: Schoeps & Schlüter Architekten GmbH, Münster 48147 Area: 3.9 hectares Construction Budget: 1.83 Million EUR Dates of Construction: 2012-September 2013 Photography: Gereon Holtschneider, Matthias Funk – scape Landschaftsarchitekten Get Social With scape Landschaftsarchitekten: Website: www.scape-net.de Google +: www.plus.google.com/+Scape-netDe Facebook: www.facebook.com/scapeLandschaftsarchitekten LinkedIN: www.linkedin.com/company/scape-landschaftsarchitekten-gmbh Recommended Reading:
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
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