Wernigerode is a picturesque small town with half-timber buildings located at the northern ranges of the Harz. It has a legendary view of the Brocken, the highest mountain in northern Germany. Almost forgotten to its inhabitants there were seven historic fishponds on the city’s outskirts, the oldest of which from the 14th century. They lay – stuck at the intersection between the city and the surrounding landscape – faceless, unordered and uncared for. Over the last 50 years, the whole area has been used as a waste dump for construction materials.
The Horticultural Show 2006 had been the ideal instrument for the city to reconstruct this non-place. The chance was given to rehabilitate this area and make it usable for the people whilst regaining a valuable urban space. The ponds, precious, protected moist forests, wide populations of ruderal vegetation and some relics offered a rich diversity that had not been heeded so far.
This Project roused the potentials found. Hidden qualities have been made visible, without covering the tracks of the past. Its cautious contact with the spatial conditions, complemented by distinct new sets are its characteristics.
The ‘Fishwalk’ – a one-kilometre pedestrian bridge – connects the ponds from east to west.
Alongside this pedestrian bridge some water stations – the so-called follies are located. These interact with the water surface in the tradition of an English landscape park as emotional carriers. They display spaces of desire, drawing attention to them, arousing emotions and attracting people during the horticultural show and afterwards.
As a ‚Canyon of minerals’ the ‘Fishwalk’ cuts through the waste dump. The region around Wernigerode is known as a German geological hot spot among experts. The ‘geological window’ in the ‘Canyon of Minerals’ shows the exemplary succession and layering of regional rock sheets.
A belt of gardens frames the ‘Zaunwiese’- an open and wide meadow slightly bent towards the city. In its centre a grove of existing trees is located. This romantic copse is staged by a glittering and perforated metal fence as a ‘Magical copse’.
The belt of gardens as a sequence of forty different gardens nuzzles around the ponds. The gardens are divided by colourful textile walls. The variety of specific horticultural topics turns the belt of gardens into a promenade that invites visitors to go window shopping.
A special feature is the ‘Recycling-gardens’. Construction materials found at the site and rubble are set into combination with characteristic trees: ‘Magnolia on steel’, ‘Asphalt breaker’, ‘Birches on the roof’, ‘Blood on slag’, ‘Mountainous idyll’.
The gently swinging scenic promenade is looking for the quiet places of the horticultural show. It is the introverted pendant to the linear, extroverted ‘Fishwalk’. So, the formerly outskirt-like place is transformed into a modern park with a clear, characteristic shape. A balancing act between show and sustainable usage of regional peculiarities is created. The materials used help to stress this characteristic and sustainable image: limestone from the Harz as filling for the gabions, as armourstone or as surface material. Steel as lining for pathways and walls, and wood for terraces, runways and pavilions point out the most important resources of the region which are of historic significance for Wernigerode.
Landscape Architecture: hutterreimann Landschaftsarchitektur
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Architecture: A_lab architektur, jens Schmahl, Berlin
Site management for hutterreimann: Christian Pfeuffer, Berlin
Perennial Planning: Christian Meyer, Berlin
Perennial Planning and seasonal show planting: Christine Orel, Herzogenaurach
Planning of Structural framework for Fish-Walk: Bollinger+Grohmann Architekten und Ingenieure
Statics: Wernigeröder Ingenieurbau GmbH (WIG)
Video art: Eva maria Heinrich, Berlin
Sound art: David Schwager, Düsseldorf
Year completed: 2006
Photo Credits: © Franziska Poreski, Christo Libuda