The requirements for the Primeo Energie site in Münchenstein are ever-changing and evolving, and the landscape design strives to become the carrier of the Primeo Energie corporate ideals while having a decisive impact on the identity and branding of the site. Within this context, “Primeo Energie Kosmos” commits to the important issues of energy and climate, while providing a new spatial offering for the visitors. It was of particular importance that the landscape design serves as a visualization of the sustainable circular economy, to impart such knowledge in physical form. To this end, a novel approach was pursued which shapes the discourse of contemporary landscape architecture.
The entire square was created from reused and salvaged paving stones in the spirit of the Re-Use topic. As the project progressed, it became apparent that it was necessary to depart from the classic planning process. In coordination with the client, standards were questioned and planning phases and processes were adjusted with this new priority of Re-Use. No form was designed, but rather a system with parameters. This resulted in a flexible system of ‘strips,’ that also allowed short-term changes to the materials used and the construction process. The pattern of these vertical strips was dynamically adjusted in width and length based on the availability of the materials, where they were dynamically removed, exchanged and added again at short notice during construction. Therefore, the final formal design was left entirely to the process.
As much existing material as possible was re-installed directly on site again. Around 70% of the re-used materials in the end were repurposed materials on site, while the remaining 30% were local materials within the circular economy, such as residual stocks from local warehouses or rejects from manufacturers. Natural stone paving, concrete block paving, edging materials, gravel foundation and excavated materials were all re-purposed into this new square.
In addition to its function as a reception and exhibition space, the square becomes an exhibited object itself. The existing turbine was preserved to showcase the regional energy history. A long bench and natural backdrops complement the absence of formal composition of the square. The climate-ready trees planted here further the thematic engagement with climate change. The transition to the adjacent Birs waterfront area is strengthened with vegetation typical of the locality. In whole, the square becomes a new representative place for the site and for the company, while also providing a pleasant space to occupy.
The project sparks meaningful conversation regarding the landscape architect’s role in today’s climate crisis. Clearer standards on the management of carbon footprint within the process of building our environment remain critical and yet to be precisely developed. So far, landscape architect’s contribution has focused primarily on carbon sequestration with planting of vegetation, while other important methods, such as preservation of existing carbon and life cycle assessment of building materials, are still rather in the infancy. As illustrated through this project, serious consideration of hardscape ecology proves to be another tangible and crucial aspect to be addressed within our professional practice.
Landscape Architecture: Bryum
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Rapp AG
Project location: Weidenstrasse, Münchenstein, Switzerland
Design and Execution year: 2019-2022