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Difficult heritage as new public park spaces

Landscape design
Graduation project Academy of Architecture Amsterdam
Nominated for Archiprix NL 2018

This transformation of the dilapidated Volkspark Dutzendteich in Neurenberg gives the park
landscape a modified identity and a new practical value, as well as giving the difficult on-site
history a meaningful place in the park.

Cultural history and heritage are often seen as positive and purposeful subjects in a design or planning
process. But how to deal with heritage sites whose past is less pleasant? It then transpires that some
periods are best forgotten and places associated with them are left to decay, although some of them
have an important story to tell. Volkspark Dutzendteich in Nuremberg, Germany, is such a place:
it was where Nazi Party rallies were organized in the 1930s. Albert Speer made for this area a
megalomaniac master plan, some of whose prominent structures still exist. These structures and
buildings have been in a dilapidated state for quite some time now and generate an immense scale
that includes lifeless open places. The park landscape of Dutzendteich is itself in a poor condition
and has become fragmented. How could a new approach to this difficult heritage act as a catalyst
and a boost to developing Dutzendteich into a high-quality city park?

My proposal is to more effectively incorporate the heritage sites by locating them in open spaces in
the forest. Instead of reducing the scale of those sites they would become better defined spaces
when placed into something even bigger: the forest. By enlarging and compacting the forest around
them, this difficult heritage gets a place in the longer history of the site as a whole. Indeed,
Dutzendteich began life when fishing ponds were dug in the forest.

The design focuses on the four most prominent and problematic heritage sites, a road
(Grosse Strasse), a body of water (Silbersee), a former arena (Zeppelinfeld) and a large unfinished
building (Kongresshalle). The vast paved area of Grosse Strasse is to become a water axis. The road’s
footprint remains but the infill and use change completely. This intervention provides the material
for two of the other sites. The stone is used to create a sports square at Zeppelinfeld and the soil to
fill in the toxic Silbersee, turning it into a dune (Silberdüne). The last of the four is the ‘congress hall’,
the largest extant Nazi building, whose enclosed courtyard is to become an exotic garden, while the
building’s facade will be opened up to make the place visible and accessible.

In transforming these places I am not seeking to erase or restore the past but giving it a new meaning
for the future. These new public park spaces will continue to tell the stories of the site.

Link to full booklet