• Sponge City Hefei - Eco Shore

    Various naturally designed areas in the Hefei City Park form the eco-bank. For example, an existing dam wall is expanded to include a so-called eco-berm. Sealing mats, gravel and sediment as well as a layer of wood and larger stones are applied to the existing structure and thereby provide habitats for plants and animals.

    To protect the new habitats, they are only partially accessible to humans. The rich nature with birds, insects, fish and a large variety of grasses, shrubs and trees can be experienced from a respectful distance on guided boardwalks. A unique encounter of plants, animals and people and an exciting retreat in the city.

    An existing wood area in the east will be enriched with more trees and thus become a dense urban forest, which has a positive effect on the microclimate and biodiversity. In addition, a retention soil filter takes on hydrological functions. Rainwater is cleaned here and then fed into the lake.

    A new shallow water zone with bird islands and bird beaches will be reserved for nature. The panorama pier makes it possible for people to experience this part punctually and at the same time opens up the view over the lake. Through the wooden walkways, human activity is concentrated in selected connecting spaces. The shallow banks, overgrown with aquatic plants, give the lake room to expand during heavy rains without flooding the city. The aquatic plants also have a cleaning function and thus improve the water quality of the reservoir.

    under construction
    Hefei / Anhui
    China
  • Sponge City Hefei - Floodplain park

    The floodplain park in the North of the city park plays a key role in the sponge city of Hefei. The green-blue corridor makes a virtue out of the threat of flooding: Instead of building grey, rigid infrastructure elements hidden under streets and blocks of houses, the park upgrades the required functions and thus creates a socially highly valuable place. It offers space for play, sports and recreation.

    A seating area with a view of the largest retention basin invites you to observe the changing water levels. The different states of the water become an experience by wrapping the park in a constantly changing robe. Also, there are numerous offers: a basketball field, a playground and a skating area, while the adjoining market hall is the starting point for the seating steps along the park.

    As an invitation to stroll, the Scenic Way meanders through the grounds, past meadows and densely planted groves. Numerous flower beds and small pavilions fill the path with small highlights. The dry stream, which carries water when it rains, runs parallel. Direct paths for cyclists and pedestrians connect the opposite parts of the city.

    In addition to the social needs of the city dwellers, the park fulfils another important task: the surface water from the surrounding districts is channelled here and cleaned by hydrophytes in rain gardens. Collected in retention basins, the rainwater can seep away and evaporate. The dry stream diverts any excess water into the wetland. The park is designed for a 50-year flood event.

    under construction
    Hefei / Anhui
    China
  • Sponge City Hefei - Wetland

    The Wetland Park in the city park of the sponge city of Hefei creates an adventure space from the infrastructure needed to prevent flooding and to clean the drain water. The green-blue complexes will become visible and tangible core elements of the newly emerging city.

    The wet biotope is varied. A variety of visual relationships mediate between the city and the park landscape. Flora and fauna are within reach over the circular footbridges in the middle of the city and, like the various terrace levels, invite you to linger and stroll. Small islands serve as vantage points from which the dynamic water levels can be observed particularly well. In addition, they provide important habitats for various animals and plants and thus promote biodiversity in Hefei.

    A sundeck is planned in the east of the wetland. Urbanity and publicity are lived under the wooden roof. Various levels descend towards the wet biotope, creating a variety of places with different qualities that differ in size, shape and activity.

    Pre-cleaned water from the northern Floodplain Park is further cleaned by plants close to the water before it is fed into the adjacent reservoir. In addition, the wetland biotope improves the city's sponge function: the absorption capacity of the wetland prevents too much water from being discharged directly into the lake, a concept that counteracts potential flooding scenarios. The transition to the lake is fluid while floating islands mediate between wetland and lake.

    under construction
    Hefei / Anhui
    China
  • Marconiplein

    How to raise a dike in an innercity environment?

    Nexus, from the Latin 'nectere', means a "connection or series of connections linking two or more things". Marconiplein is, indeed, at the crossroad of different flows: not only mobility but ecology, water protection, development.

    Our vision is rooted in the understanding of this space as a complex node, where traditionally, absolute priority has been given to transport. Our proposal aims to invert the paradigm of Marconiplein as a space - a sum of several leftover spaces- defined by infrastructures, but rather, addressing high-quality public spaces first, where infrastructural strategy follows. The design of the new square will be led by the principle of unveiling. If in history, infrastructures - considered as a major source of disruption - have been buried, hidden and elevated, technological progress and accurate urban solutions, offer now the opportunity of reconnecting to infrastructures.

    Specific solutions will range from sloping squares, new vertical cross-views, increased number of entrances, fostering the square as a seamless public space, where infrastructure is no more perceived as separated from the city.

    completed
    2021
    Rotterdam
    The Netherlands
  • Branch in the Landscape

    "Branch in the Landscape" presents a holistic concept that includes both the planned cycle and footpath connection across the Neckar and its relationship with the surrounding urban landscape. The focus is on providing residents and visitors with attractive incentives to switch to environmentally-friendly mobility. Urban planning, traffic, and design aspects are being developed into a uniform green infrastructure as a catalyst for new uses of the adjacent public spaces.

    Not only the residents will benefit from the new connections, but also the future users of the cycle expressway between Mannheim and Heidelberg. The infrastructure is deliberately compact and reserved in space and the cityscape. The functional path connection is supplemented at certain points by programmatic balconies, each of which enables a view of different landscapes and thus creates several places to come together and linger.

    Purposefully positioned buildings under the bridge structure (with potential uses such as a café and bicycle workshop) not only create a local path through the treetops but also create a new urban edge. Together with the bridge structure, this edge forms a new city gate in the west of Heidelberg and at the same time offers noise protection for the newly created Gneisenaupark.

    "Branch in the Landscape" creates a variety of spaces through the contrast between linear infrastructure and soft landscape, which also strengthens existing biotopes, creates new ones, strengthens the Heidelberg cityscape and helps previously separate neighbourhoods to create new synergies.

    completed
    2019
    Heidelberg
    Germany
  • Drymades Promenade

    Strolling in vivid nature!

    Located in between the high mountains and the Ionian Sea in the South of Albania, the new 2 km long Drymades promenade wants to emphasize this duality by creating an impression of being immersed in nature and the greenery while having the beach feeling at the same time. By using organic shapes instead of straight lines, we create a green boulevard with different scenarios, points of view and vibes.

    The division in different zones helps on creating diversity and reflects the varieties and characteristics the area presents. The promenade aims to be an experience in itself with more quiet and natural zones on the side and a vivid part, the hotspot area, in the middle. Here you can find an underground bar which also serves as an elevated plaza or also a pier on the water with different functions on it. The project is unified by common elements, materials and concepts along the promenade such as stone walls, sand-coloured concrete paving and cut out stone or furniture in corten steel.

    One of the key elements of the project is the planting in random dispersion. It serves as shading but also helps at shaping the promenade and giving different scenarios and points of view.

    The kiosks, which are always located in the planters, provide the necessary services needed on the promenade. While the fixed bottom part is made of stone walls, the upper part is made from wood and is thought of as a flexible element that can adapt to the different functions and needs. The biggest kiosk serves as a bar and eating place, the smaller ones as newspaper or ice cream shops, and the smallest ones as public toilets and changing rooms. The roof made of corten steel makes the structure a sustainable one. It is slightly elevated from the main structures to allow the air to pass through and cool the structure underneath. It also collects the rainwater and with the proper inclination, brings it to the planter on the back.

    under construction
    2020
    Drymades
    Albania
  • Vlora Boulevard

    A scenic route that attracts locals and tourists.

    With the new Boulevard in Vlora, the second largest port city of Albania, we vitalized an important node of the city that was far from using its great potential of becoming the lively heart of Vlora. Here one can find everything the city needs; from bars, shops, and restaurants to theatres, mosques, the University and the stadium.

    The mission was to improve the public space that now is not only the biggest shopping street of Vlora but also acts as the spine of the urban structure connecting a variety of different programs with each other. The existing mix of regional and local functions and commercial and entertainment activities, that give the street a character with a high dynamic, has been strengthened.

    The boulevard used to be dominated by speedy car traffic and was characterized by palm trees that, unfortunately, were slowly dying due to a disease if not mostly dead already. The former noisy 4 lane street got downgraded into a 2 lane street to provide a 4 m wide free space for pedestrians to stroll and to promote the use of bicycles: A new service strip for terraces, furniture and all kinds of the local greenery.

    A lot of local greenery has been added to provide shade, reduce urban heat and improve the conditions and microclimate of the city. By using local materials and plants typical for the beautiful Albanian Riviera the design celebrates the identity of Vlora and emphasizes the genius local and topographical qualities and conditions. Sustainable and resilient materials for paving, using local planting and trees, define a public space that captures the characteristics of Vlora.

    completed
    2018
    Vlora
    Albania
  • Unusual living KIDS

    In Germany, 90% of all children live in cities - 60% in large and medium-sized cities alone.

    The concept study takes this as an opportunity to redesign the existing housing estate on Bürgermeister-Reuter-Straße in Bremen Vahr according to the principles of a child-friendly city. The settlement shows various potentials in open space as well as in the building stock. In addition to the location on Lake Vahr, the rich tree population and the generous open spaces, the sealed parking spaces, the repetitive, underused open spaces, and the missing center pose challenges.

    In phase 0, a footbridge will be built that connects the neighborhoods with each other and interweaves the settlement with the network of paths in the area. It creates a center for the entire quarter, creates an address on Kurt-Schumacher-Allee, invites you to the quarter, and leads to the water. This is where people play, romp, rest, chat, celebrate, cook - a meeting point and link between the neighborhoods.

    The redensification strategy is subordinate to the maintenance of the valuable tree population and is divided into measures of upgrading, increasing, and adding. New forms of living promote the social mix in the neighborhood and enable new, diverse family structures and forms of living together in the long term.

    A central neighborhood garage on the main street, supplemented with decentralized mobile stations, enables a car-free neighborhood - this increases security, which at the same time brings more space to play on the street.

    The open space is made usable in the form of private gardens, neighborhood islands, playgrounds, and the "children's wilderness". The footbridge offers various areas of play - also for informal play and nature experiences.

    In the climate-neutral quarter, the roofs are activated as blue-green solar roofs. The rainwater is collected, stored, and evaporated. Biodiversity is promoted and made visible through bee pastures, hedges, and orchards. The footbridge leads as a research path through the future-oriented quarter. There, children can play close to nature and explore relationships between themselves and their environment. Sustainable use of resources can be learned in childhood.

    Idea
    2020
    Bremen
    Germany
  • Sponge City Hefei: Five landscapes - one park.

    When a park becomes an adventure.

    Building on the master plan for the Sponge City Hefei, we next looked at one of its four large parks. The resulting profile should serve as a sample plan for the remaining zones.

    In the centre of the park, which is divided into five different areas, is the river, which is integrated as a characteristic element of the Sponge City and is of central importance. It acts as a catch basin for precipitation and floods of all kinds and thus contributes to sustainable urban development.

    Depending on the weather and the season, the park looks different and seems to be reinventing itself again and again. If the water coming from both sides of the city causes the river to swell, the park becomes, for example, standing water.

    The many plants and trees that form an entire forest in some areas are a central element of the park itself. In some parts, like the eco shore, the existing vegetation is even integrated and made tangible. In addition to the resulting shade donating places and high natural biodiversity, there is another climate-active aspect: The trees store the water at night, which they release into the air in droplets during the day, thereby helping to lower the temperature.

    While on the one hand areas are designed for meetings and events with large sunroofs for a market, for example, there are several leisure options along the spacious boulevard of the urban waterfront. There happen to be boat moorings, an amphitheatre in the water, a variety of cafes, or a specially planned swimming pool. The wetland, however, represents a completely different type of landscape design. In addition to areas with retention basins that function in a similar way, the water slowly seeps away, thereby relieving the sewage system.

    In order to make the use of a bicycle instead of the car more palatable, a cycle expressway from north to south was planned and cross-paths ensure that the eastern and western residential areas are connected.

    The variety of designed different areas answers every aspect and every question that public space can fulfil.

    For more information, we highly recommend our video about the project on CFTV.

    in progress
    Hefei / Anhui, China
    China
  • Jale Waterfront

    The rural south of Albania is gifted with a spectacular coastline, unspoiled natural areas, and rich cultural heritage. Travel is an important driver of the economic development of Albania. However, developments of the past 20 years have been haphazard and do not match the touristic potential of the region. Being part of the Albanian Government initiative of 'Urban Rebirth', the main objective of this project was the regeneration of the waterfronts of the villages Jalë and Dhërmi. Starting from the outstanding natural beauty of both locations, our aim was to structure and strengthen the coastline and connect it with its surroundings, both physically as well as ideally.

    In Jale this included freeing the main promenade from car traffic, providing basic infrastructures such as benches, bins, showers and fountains, but keeping the promenade at a low profile, seeking a continuation with the beach. As the beach is very deep and the bay mainly attracts the younger generations, we have been inspired by some of the existing beach-bars that were embedded in rich flowering gardens. Between the beach and the promenade, we have provided a strip of gardens housing 6-7 beach-bars, each with a stable structure to survive the harsh storms in winter. The bars come in three different sizes and allow for all furniture to be stored inside during the cold season.

    Photography: Lucas Hardonk

    under construction
    2016
    Himarë
    Himarë
    Albania