When tackling topics as climate change and nature conservation, one of the important aspects is education. The question arises how an abstract topic like climate change can made understandable? There is also a dilemma –should one plan a natural education path in a nature protection area? Could such an action damage the observed environment?
The Wald.Berlin.Klima. exhibition takes a stance of allowing people a contact with a (protected) natural habitat and thus enabling the visitor to develop a personal connection to the topic. The exhibition has a twofold role. Firstly, making visitors sensible to the natural environment on an emotional level and secondly, education them about the abstract topic of climate change on a cognitive level. This is achieved through spatial measures as well as through information communication in form of graphics and text.
Wald.Berlin.Klima. tells a story of the adaptation of Berliner forests to the climate change. By 2050 the mixed-forest-development program of Berlin’s forestry will turn the predominant artificial pine forests around the city into natural, structurally rich forest, which are resistant to climate extremes. First of the mixed-forest-program areas are finished since 2017 and visible for the public.
The exhibition educates about the connections between the climate change, the forest and its importance for inhabitants of Berlin. Biodiversity, moors and forest as CO2 binders, formation of groundwater, sustainable use of wood and importance of natural forestry are only some of the topics covered in the exhibition. A strong relationship to the inhabitants of Berlin is highlighted, their CO2 footprint and the climate politics of the state Berlin in the global context.
To highlight these diverse topics a special area was picked – Grunewald, an urban forest in the west of Berlin. The area is a typical German cultural landscape – a planted pine forest with wood production and recreational as its primary functions. It is morphologically diverse with a relief of shallow glacial valleys and moraines hiding with small moors and lakes. Single older trees from the time before the intensified forestry activity in the area are still present. The whole site is under nature protection.
A big entrance area on the edge of the forest functions as an event space and a meeting point. From there the visitors are led along a 4 km long path of the exhibition through raised walkways and platforms to different points of interest. An orientation system makes the visitor feel more comfortable and safe in the maze of trees, paths and topography of the Grunewald forest. It is composed of markers along the way and landmarks seen from afar.
11 stations in form of “living rooms” are placed on strategic points along the path. These rooms are 5×5 m cleared square areas in the forest furnished with exhibition elements. They carry information in form of text and clearly understandable graphics. Large-scale installations complement the exhibition. They play an important role in the dramaturgy of the visit. Visible as landmarks they evoke curiosity and lure the visitor from one station to another. The installations communicate information in a playful and emotional way, strengthening the experience.
Each of the “living rooms” tells a story of a different aspect of the forest. Abstract phrases such as CO2 footprint are made visible and easily understandable. At one installation visitors move through a surreal image in the forest where all the trees in 0,5 ha area have been marked blue. Through this a visitor comprehends how big an area of forest needed for every Berliner to bind their annual CO2 emission is. A personal connection is achieved.
The exhibition brings a small part of urban orthogonal order into the complex environment of nature. It is a connecting link between a visitor and the forest. It enables the visitor observation and understanding of the natural complexity from a familiar platform – the „living room“. At the same time the designed elements are only that – a platform. They allow the forest to step in the foreground and become the main element of the exhibition.
Landscape architecture: hochC LANDSCHAFTSARCHITEKTEN
Exhibition design: gewerkdesign
Other design firms involved: Planungsbüro Förster, BCO Architekten
Client: City of Berlin, Forestry Department Grunewald
Project location: Grunewald, Berlin, Germany
Design year: 2015/16
Year Built: 2017