15 apr. 2009

Riem Park - Munchen, Germania

Until 1992, Munich-Riem was where airplanes took off and landed.
Moving the airport to the Erdinger Moos made it possible to realise the municipal council’s courageous decision to build a suburb named after the new trade fair: Messestadt Riem. On the 560- hectare grounds of the airport, this meant setting up trade fair facilities, employment for 13,000 people and housing for 16,000, and of course a large landscape park intended to link the new city district to the surrounding municipalities.
An international ideas and realisation competition was held in 1995 for the “Landscape Park Riem” on the southern third of the former airport.
The very extensive and multi-level competition programme called for a timely park design that takes recreation, landscape composition and ecology into consideration. The first prize was awarded to the design by Latitude Nord of Paris.
The landscape architects Gilles Vexlard and Laurence Vacherot understood how to represent the woodlands of the southeast of Munich and the open fields of the northeast in the park in the form of broad expanses of meadows subdivided by forest masses, with the addition of tree clusters, strips of trees and individual trees. The diagonal structure of the plantings and pathways is oriented on the historical boundaries of the lots that left their imprint on the land before the airport was built. The park is open in all directions and joins up the new Messestadt Riem with the bordering municipalities.
Running east west, a 180-metre-wide strip for various activities extends for 2.5 kilometres between the new Messestadt and the new park landscape. This contains recreational facilities for active uses, with areas for games and sports; in the east, the strip leads to a ten-hectare lake designed for swimming and to two geometrically shaped sledding and lookout hills composed mainly of rubble from the demolished airport. In the west are four large Sunken Gardens. Other beds of perennial plantings are
in the Parallel Gardens.
Most of the southern part of the park is designed to closely resemble the natural landscape, mostly consisting of lean grassland, meadows with a wealth of plant species and areas of woody perennials. Especially striking is the long extended meadow of perennials with an aspect predominantly of iris and mint on the south shore of the lake. The plants in the park correspond to the indigenous plant communities of the Munich gravel plain’s natural area.
Important aspects of the park design are the proportions and perspectives
with which it stages the breadth. The arrangement of the trees creates spaces and sequences of spaces that give the park depth. Over 20,000 trees were arranged according to a detailed planting plan; some of these blocks of trees were planted on raised beds of earth to provide the experience of different heights. The pathways are superimposed over the plantings as an independent layer. They form extended straight lines or axes and underscore the experience of breadth. On clear days you can see the Alps south of the park.
One of the important architectural elements in the park is the terrace wall that delimits the strip of activities. Inserted at regular intervals are 193 bronze plaques with aerial views of landscapes all around the world on the same latitude of 48°09’ as Munich. The landscape architect Gilles Vexlard comments: “The basic idea with the park is to create a place that
expresses the influence of the human intellect. A place that also brings to mind that a park is a human creation and comes about through a human decision.”
Riemer Park was inaugurated during the 2005 National Garden Festival in Munich and has been open since the spring of 2006 for unlimited access to Munich residents and their guests. Not all park visitors so far have made friends with the dimensions of the park and the axial pathways. But when the trees have been given time to grow and when the intended
spatial effects and compositions come about, people will appreciate that a generous design that can do without little designed bits and pieces was realised here.

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