|Name:||Abu Sayeed Mohammed Ziad|
|Studio:||Thesis ( Masters of Landscape Architecture)|
|Studio Master:||Prof. Dr. Nicole Uhrig, Dipl.-Ing. Stefan Grieger|
This design thesis seeks to investigate the potential for rejuvenating the identity of a German city, Chemnitz, through open-space design. Following the recommendations of the historic urban landscape (HUL) approach by UNESCO, the relationship between urban design and urban placemaking is explored. The thesis argues that preserving the traits and values associated with an urban public space’s history and collective memory can establish urban placemaking. The outcome of this design research is an open space design with the vision of making Chemnitz a cultural city realized through citizen involvement in shaping the place.
Chemnitz, the third largest city in Saxony, is a part of the central German metropolitan region and was selected as the European Capital of Culture 2025. The city’s history is an eventful one, which began in 1136. One of the most noticeable landmarks on the city skyline is the Schlossberg Castle. In the 19th century, Chemnitz prospered into one of the major centers of industrialized Germany, eventually becoming the most thriving city in the country. Between 1860 and 1915, the paramount green spaces in Chemnitz were created. A crucial green space was designed in the Ufer Park, which links Brückenstrasse, a vital street connecting the city center with the Schlossteich lake facilities, then Schlossberg terraces created by Karl Wienke and Schlossberg Castle. However, the incomplete and fragmented urban redevelopments and historical structures continue to present challenges for the city.
Chemnitz becoming the official European Capital of Culture in 2025, initiates fresh cultural starts and long-term urban development initiatives. Despite its rich cultural history, Chemnitz is a region that is often overlooked and receives little attention.
The urban development in Chemnitz is a conglomeration of different types of urban fabric from various eras throughout its history. Furthermore, Chemnitz has been dealing with the emergence of right wing movements and therefore the citizenry have been dealing with establishing a sense of identity related to the urban spaces of the city.
The project site is around 22 hectares and is situated north of the city center. It consists of a corridor of open space that runs from Brückenstrasse Street in the south through the Schlossteich lake area to the Schlossberg terraces in the north (Berlin.de, 2022). The selected site poses an opportunity to explore the possibilities to employ urban design to create a public open space that could manifest the city’s identity through traversing its historical urban development phases. Also, the site is deemed an important location to present programmes of the capital of culture year. The site is fragmented visually and spatially with a lack of coherent and contiguous urban development. This thesis will attempt to produce a design proposal through which these issues will be addressed.
Through a comprehensive analysis of the site, four key problems were identified. To address these problems and the main objective of the work, namely the creation of identity through place-making, the tools of the Historic Urban Landscape Approach recommended by UNESCO are used. The tools are applied to address the facets of urban placemaking described by Fürst (2010). A bridge can be built between the design and layout of an urban area, where the quality of life and human environment is paramount, using knowledge and planning tools. The Civic Engagement Tool addresses place-making by connecting people and culture in an urban area. It focuses on how people work together in a place to create functions and thus transform the space into a place.
The application of the different tools in the context of sustainable urban development thus makes it possible to use the HUL approach for the design of urban space. If we look a bit more into the proper application of these tools, we can link the HUL proposals to urban place-making.
A green canvas like landscape is provided in Schlossberg Terraces where the goal is to intervene minimally while providing a backdrop like lawn landscape for the heritage elements and Landscape planning of Karl Wienke to shine through. Chemnitz riverbank is redeveloped with terraced steps, known as “Ghat ” in Eastern cultures. This area promotes dialogue between the people as well as establishing spatial and visual relations. The lake is given the center stage and viewing decks and pleasant walkways to enjoy the lakefront are implemented in the design. The original planning philosophy of English landscape gardens is followed. The musikpavillon from the GDR era is reinvigorated by incorporating seating areas around it: with the goal of transforming it into a relic similar to the amphitheater – the cultural heart of the whole ensemble. The Promenadenstrasse between Schlossteichpark and Uferpark is redesigned as a shared space, promoting uninterrupted visual and spatial connection. This, in turn, develops a walkable neighborhood for the surrounding areas, whilst giving the visitors an opportunity to enjoy a stroll through the many layers of history in Chemnitz.
The design proposal attempts to transform the existing areas into democratic spaces. With the recent violent trends seen in Chemnitz, the need for areas is higher than ever where proper dialogue and exchange between different groups can occur. The design provides spaces that encourage community bonding, exchange and wellness of the citizens, thus, creating a platform for the inhabitants to transcend the borders and leave their imprint on the already rich identity of Chemnitz.