The Bamberg State Garden Show is landscaping on a massive scale costing over 10.3 million euros – David Curtis visits Bavaria to inspect the progress…
The town cotton mill was forced to close in 1992 and the site has remained virtually unused since then, it forms the northern tip of the island on which Bamberg city centre is located. Its counterpart is the “Hain” park on the southern tip of the island,which dates from the 19th century and is Bavaria’s biggest municipal park.
The State Garden Show offered planners the unique opportunity to transform the industrial wasteland into a blossoming landscape.
The concept of architect Hans Brugger of Aichach is based on networking as a key design element. His plan attracts attention to natural open spaces within the city. Nature is upgraded, made more accessible and linked with the city. In this way, the three historical settlement areas of Gärtnerstadt (gardeners’ quarter), Bergstadt (episcopal quarter) and Inselstadt (island quarter) are extended by a fourth dimension: Bamberg’s natural quarter.
The fish ladder
One of the main attractions on the site is already finished: the gently curved fish
ladder. The ecological aim of the ladder is to make it possible for fish, mainly barbel, nase and chub, and other water creatures to pass along the River Regnitz again – their natural path has been blocked by a weir until now. The ladder must climb a slope of four metres over a total lengthof 1.2 kilometres. The paths along the fish ladder are of varied, natural-like design. In future, areas of shallow water will alternate with playgrounds close to the water. Poor sandy grassland, bushes and single trees like willow, alder, ash, bird cherry and viburnum decorate the banks. The fish ladder can be crossed by stepping stones, fords or bridges, which means it can be experienced as a natural area from both banks.
The pyramid meadows
“The pyramid meadows combine plasticity and design principle,” says landscape architect Hans Brugger, explaining this idea. He has translated the basic forms of the pyramids into the matrix network that is the basis of his whole plan and has given them a third dimension through different heights between three and five metres. Starting in spring 2012, the pyramids will invite visitors to enjoy the wonderful elevated view of the fish ladder or the hustle of activity during the garden show.
The pyramid meadows are not just a landmark for the park, but also have an ecological purpose. First the soil excavated for the fish ladder is reused in the landscape design, and second the pyramids cover many toxic waste deposits on the site. “The pyramids are
a very good safety solution for the environmental treatment of these waste deposits”
When the waste deposits were covered over, a foundation level was laid to secure the contaminated material and make it impossible for rainwater to penetrate, which avoids the risk of contaminated substances seeping through into the groundwater. The foundation level was then covered with a 150-cm thick recultivation layer, comprising a densely packed stone layer, a sand and loam layer, and humus material. Altogether 15,000 cubic metres of earthwork materials were required for covering the toxic waste deposits.
The playground design
The organisation managed to obtain the services of the well known Bamberg author Paul Maar for designing the playground. His world-renowned children’s book character “Sams” will feature at the garden show – the five playgrounds on the ERBA site relate the story of Sams. There will be something for every age group: An infants playground near the tip of the island, a large climbing area in the birch grove for the slightly older children, a water playground with balancing rope over the fish ladder and cable ferries for everyone on the old arm or a rope swing on the playground in the sand gorge, on which the older children can place the smaller children in the middle and have fun together. The Bamberg artists Tanja Potrykus and Thomas Gröhling, who have already designedmany playgrounds nationwide, assisted with the implementation of the Sams story.
The declared aim of the revival of winegrowing at St. Michael’s Abbey is to revive the tradition of vintners and winegrowing in Bamberg. Some 4,000 Franconian Silvaner vines were planted on an area of 8,600 square metres in May last year. Since then, winegrower Martin Bauerschmitt of Zeil has been busy growing grapes for organic wine in the monastery. He expects the first wine in 2011. The vineyard has been enhanced by growing vineyard peaches and roses – an action initiated by many committed citizens of the town
The gardeners’ quarter
The gardeners’ quarter offers large green spaces, flourishing market gardens, numerous memorials and one of the most interesting gardening museums in Germany. The old-established area plays a major role in Bamberg’s UNESCO World Heritage status, but is nevertheless unknown to many citizens of Bamberg and most of the visitors. A new concept and fresh ideas enabled the gardeners’ quarter to make a new start in spring 2009. Many market gardeners had already given up in the past years due to lack of trainees and economic problems. The aim was to provide long-term support and give the gardeners future prospects. The focusis on direct marketing, which is heavily advertised and will be established again through gardeners’ markets and fairs. The Gardeners and Vintners Museum – a gem at the heart of the gardeners’ quarter – is being redesigned for the State Garden Show. It provides a very unusual insight into the life and work of Bamberg’s gardeners and vintners. Even the museum itself is an impressive exhibit: a typical 19th century gardener’s house.
The riverside paths
Improved linking between the northern and southern tip of the island town to make the city centre more attractive was a main argument for constructing the State Garden Show 2012 The riverside paths between the two bridges – Markusbrücke and Friedensbrücke – represent an essential component of the Bamberg island town. The riverside path is about 200 metres long and located on the sunny side of the River Regnitz. Especially in the area of Schiffbauplatz, the path offers unique views of Bamberg cathedral and the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael with its baroque terraced gardens. The towpath (called the Treidelpfad) along the old canal, which leads past the rear of Geyerswörth Castle, has already reached an initial construction phase.
The Garden Show in figures
Size of site approx. 18.5 ha
Investment budget approx. 10.3 million euros
Implementation budget approx. 8.75 million euros
Planting of approx. 50,000 shrubs and ground-cover plants
Planting of 5,500 bushes
Planting of 400 trees