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The Curious Case of Killesberg Park: A Landscape Telling Its Own Story

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park by Rainer Schmidt Landschaftsarchitekten GMBH, in Stuttgart, Germany. Every place has its own story. And that story very often is the line framing its authentic character and spirit. In order to reinforce the unique experience each site bears, designers try to “capture” that spirit within their projects. But capturing isn’t enough. It is just the beginning of what is needed for a successful human intervention. To make the most of a place, there are a few necessary and sufficient conditions. They cover the understanding that nature and history should always be treated with respect. In this way only, designers will find the balance between design and function, emotion and conservation. Finding that balance isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible, either. Landscape architects from Rainer Schmidt Landschaftsarchitekten GMBH found it; let’s see how their project Killesberg Park proves what’s been stated above.

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park

The Story Behind the Landscape The history of Killesberg Park dates back to the time when the area was used as a quarry for industrial purposes. Years of mining at this sandstone quarry caused severe damage to the landscape’s topography. And although the place had a prime location, the land was unsuitable for buildings on account of its former use. Since the 1920s, the goal of planning the area has been focused on connecting the separate parks and gardens of Killesberg. An early sign of its current use came in 1939, when the city of Stuttgart applied to host the Reichsgartenschau (National Garden Show). This is when the idea to redevelop the area and make it an accessible green space for residents emerged.

Killesberg Park. Credit: ARGE Zukunft Killesberg

Killesberg Park. Credit: ARGE Zukunft Killesberg

Two Interweaving Themes, One Design Concept And since the citizens were the people who would actually visit the park and spend time there, they inevitably had to take part in the design process. As a result, the design of the park was the fruit of the collaborative work among landscape architects, local authorities, and the local population.
Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

graceful fusion of the two themes The starting point of the design concept was the graceful fusion of the two themes that characterize Killesberg – soft, natural landscapes and manmade quarries as hard topographies. The hard karst forms, representing the typical quarry topography, change over time, varying from sharply broken hardscape into soft, rounded landscapes covered by earth and greenery.
Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

The trans-formative process is simulated through the gradual softening of the irregular shapes, which become green “cushions”. In this way, the park topography is sculpted by meter-high meadow cushions laid among the path network. The meadow profiles also unite the three areas of Feuerbach Heath, Green Joint, and the Park before the Red Wall, as they blend them together in the overall picture. A new landscape arises, and tells its own story. Playing With Perspective Besides the praiseworthy approach of designers to treasure and reinforce the identity of the park, there is one more creative aspect within the project that deserves attention. The dynamic forms of the new landscape provide a variety of different perspectives due to the eye-height raised topography and the sunken path network in between the meadows. A playful optical illusion skews the perception of human scale and makes people feel like they are entirely absorbed in the landscape. This is a perfect example of a surprising element in the park, which brings new experiences and sensations to visitors.
Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

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Forward-looking Design Within all these new sensations and underlying themes honoring the social and environmental past lies the ultimate idea of creating a future-oriented design. The idea is implemented by different environmentally conscious methods used in the construction of the ecosystem in the area. The main sustainable and ecological approaches used in the project are two: • The rain water management is successful due to the underground cistern, which collects water from roofs and pipes it to the park’s lake. After that, water returns to its natural circulation; • The park’s green “pillows” form various biotopes for flora and fauna by their individual microclimatic conditions. The meadow grasses require mowing only twice a year, which reduces significantly the money and time spent on their maintenance.

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Killesberg Park. Photo credit: Raffaella Sirtoli

Interaction Between People and Nature Sustainability is just one of the numerous ways people can attest to their love and respect for nature. And if accompanied by a treasured history and a functional, interactive design, as in Killesberg Park, landscape architects may know for sure that they have made the most of the place. For they have found the much needed balance in design, which determines the way people interact with each other and with nature. Awards: Phases 2 – 9 HOAI, 1st Prize, 2008; Certificate of sutainability in Gold from DGNB (the German Sustainanble Building Council) Article by Velislava Valcheva Recommended Reading:

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