by STIRworldAug 14, 2020
Urban planning and development schemes tend to follow specific processes. Typically used as a way of defining the infrastructure in functioning metropolises and developing cities, an urban plan must have a central focus on what it is attempting to address. Contemporary urban plans are often rooted in a ‘problem solving’ cyclical process. The core idea of an urban plan is to provide a cohesive, inclusive and increasingly sustainable environment. Continued theoretical and academic research has expanded the nature of urban interventions in practice. This has led to a discourse of different approaches or types of urban planning. However, these types are not mutually exclusive and often coexist. One of these approaches is the idea of aligning an urban plan based on ‘land use’.
A proposed master plan by Cityförster Architecture + Urbanism and Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners is based on the idea of aggregating an infrastructure plan based on land use. Rather than focusing solely on the built environment, which is often the case, the proposal identifies four sub-categories of landscape urban planning. Often urban plans identify green zones that incorporate outdoor activities as a generic factor. Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners master plan highlights the importance of identifying these green zones beyond this broad and non-specific definition. Landscape design in an urban plan is often sequestered as an auxiliary to infrastructure and not an integral part of the plan. Eduardo Marin Salinas, landscape architect and biologist, Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners, said, “The green and blue corridors that shape the new development of Blankenburg bring people and nature together, scaling up its relationship and promoting a resilient, productive, and sustainable way of living.”
Berlin’s residential facilities are currently overwhelmed. This is being addressed partly by the densification of the city centre and partly by creating new developments in vacant areas along the city’s periphery. Blankenburg is designated as one of the largest expansion sites, covering an area of 150 hectares and will provide up to 6000 homes. In a comment to STIR, Felixx Landscape Architects & Planners said, “The masterplan is more a connection of two existing parts of the city of Berlin within the green belt of the city. It makes a link between existing urban structures Blankenburg (in the north) and Heinersdorf (south of the project area).”
The urban design is based on the concept of a Circular City, a circular organised neighbourhood, where the landscape design creates the city. This is not a form-based definition and is not akin to a Radial City, but rather an infrastructural idea. With a focus on designing the blue-green infrastructure, the proposed master plan looks at a 60-hectare landscape park with garden, forest and water land not only offers various places for leisure, sport and recreation but also provides numerous ecosystem services such as climatisation in urban areas, rainwater management, food production and the strengthening of biodiversity. The neighbourhood is divided into four sub-sections, each with its specific building and open space structure that is defined based on specific landscape typologies.
The four land types include Garden Land, Water Land, Productive Land, and Forest Land. The vegetable gardens of the Garden Land residential neighbourhood are located in the west. These are conceptualised as places where knowledge is shared and communal neighbourhood activities can take place. At the southern portion of the masterplan is the Water Land residential neighbourhood. Here the garden spaces are rain gardens, where one can pick berries. The Forest Land also offers areas for an edible forest as a recreational, health-promoting or learning experience. The Productive Land refers to the new business park, where a circular approach to large-scale food production is to be realised on the roofs of commercial buildings. This part of the proposal looks at the idea of urban farming as a more concentrated effort. Each landscape has its specific focus, functionality and atmosphere. Each landscape deals with the idea of circularity differently but they are also complementary to each other.
The goal seems to be to create a district that makes a significant contribution to water and energy conservation. As a Landscape City, the plan showcases the proposal's commitment to establish a strong relationship with the surrounding landscape based on type. Each sub-category of the master plan looks at water, food, energy, knowledge, raw materials, mobility and biodiversity as qualities and services and not just features. The studio emphasised the fact that each green core is not an independent, demarcated district, but some that fit into the programmatic context, which strengthens their ideas of community.