Rainer Schmidt: The history of Park Killesberg has its origins in the industrial use of the site as a quarry. Known as “Stuttgarter Werkstein” (Stuttgart Ashlar), this sandstone was mined intensively for a long time and left a jagged artificial topography much like an open wound in the landscape. The so called “red wall” of Kochenhof still stands as a symbol of this former use. Its brilliant red sandstone forms a visible edge. Though situated in a sloped prime location the land was unsuitable as a building site due to its previous use. Hence, the city of Stuttgart applied for hosting the Reichsgartenschau (National Garden Show) in 1939 with the visionary idea to redevelop and integrate the area and to make it accessible as a green space for the population by means of a rearrangement of traffic and landscape. Originally designed by Hermann Mattern, the park today is the only well-preserved example of the art of horticulture in the 1930s in the area, with a sophisticated concept underlining the basic structure of the landscape and changing vistas and views. Its importance as a place of recreation for the population is evident in the efforts to include the park in the area’s listed sites, at a time when the term of monument was not applied to gardens in the conservation law.

Since the 1920s, the planning of the area has been aimed at connecting the various parks and gardens of Killesberg. With the proposed redesign of this brownfields site, the opportunity arose to complete the so-called “green U” stretching from Schlossgarten, the park of Villa Berg, Rosenstein Park, Wilhelma, Leibfridscher Garten, Wartberg and Killesberg up to the Feuerbacher Heide. While each area keeps its individual character, they offer visitors a connected tour of the city’s garden culture. The extension of Park Killesberg was only made possible after the demolition of the old exhibition grounds, which until 2012 formed a barrier for the “green U” at the south edge. Situated close to the Stuttgart Academy of Fine Arts, the former exhibition grounds will become a new neighborhood with a strong focus on Creative Industries. A community center, additional space for the Academy, and 200 apartments, offices and studio apartments are planned. As the “Grüne Fuge” (green joint), the Park Killesberg expansion serves as the green heart of the newly constructed district, and continues the long history of the area as a garden show site with a contemporary expression of landscape architecture and as a model for interconnected green spaces.

The design is the result of a collaborative process with the local authorities, citizens and neighbours. The overall premise was to create a pioneering concept for the extension of the park that combines ecology with economy and allows a new urban environment, different from the usual way pursued by local authorities. The collaborative approach required many design alternatives and revisions, aiming to provide stakeholders with an understanding of the design intent and a convincing basis for subsequent decision-making. After numerous design studies exploring separate characters for the different parts of the green network, the design evolved to achieve a seamless combination of the individual spaces and a cohesive design language for the entire space, thereby maximising the effectiveness of the complete “green U”.

Two themes that characterise Killesberg are the starting point for the design: a soft, near-natural landscape, and man-made quarries as hard topographies. The hard forms of a typical quarry topography change over time, morphing from sharply broken materials into a softer landscape of green regrowth. This process of change has been interpreted at Park Killesberg by bringing vast quantities of soil into the former quarry areas and exhibition grounds, simulating the long natural process of smoothing out irregularities by creating a new topography of lawn ‘cushions’ between path systems. A new landscape arises, and it tells a story.

The underlying theme of the design is based on skewing the perception of human scale and reinterpreting familiar perspectives by raising the topography to eye height and setting up a sunken path network between. The skilful illusion of the new topography intensifies the feeling of being completely absorbed in the landscape and generates a surprisingly playful experience for the park user – a new sensation. The layout of paths is inspired by the quarries’ irregularities, as well as by the gentle winding pattern taken as one climbs the ascent on either side of the street which bisects the park. The new design motif unifies the Feuerbach Heide and the park in front of the Rote Wand (red wall of Kochenhof) with the new park extension (Grüne Fuge).

The concept of sustainable and ecological development is an underlying theme. Rain water from the roofs of the new development is collected in an underground cistern from where it is piped to a new lake and returned to the water cycle. With their individual microclimatic conditions, the park’s meadow cushions are biotopes for various types of flora and fauna. The meadow grasses require mowing only twice a year, considerably reducing ongoing maintenance costs. The landscape of the Park Killesberg extension interconnects with the adjacent residential area, whose detached houses open directly to the park, as well as forming a direct connection to the centre of the new district.

Prof. Rainer Schmidt

Data

Name of project: Park Killesberg
City/ Country: Stuttgart/ Germany
Client: State Capital City Stuttgart
Landscape Architect: Rainer Schmidt Landschaftsarchitekten GmbH
Landscape Associate Architect: Pfrommer+Roeder Landschaftsarchitekten
Contractor: ARGE Link- Seidenspinner
Planning-Construction time: 2008 – 2013
Site Area: ca.10 ha
Construction Budget Landscape: ca. EUR 7,5 Million gross
Services (HOAI- Germany): Scope of Services 1-8
Principal Designer: Prof. Rainer Schmidt
Photographer: Raffaella Sirtoli, Besco, Stefan Müller
Renderings: ARGE Zukunft Killesberg

Awards:
European Garden Award, 1.Prize, Category “Innovative Contemporary Concept or Design of a Park or Garden”, 2014
RTF-Award, 1.Prize, Category Landscape Design ‘Built’, 2014
WAN Landscape Award 2015, 1.Prize, 2015

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