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gmünder talfinger & the rems.valley.metropolis

_speculations on interwoven architectures, hybrid landscape

& interactive infrastructures 

EUROPAN 16 - 2nd place, Runner Up

- urban scale with architectural interventions

with architect M. Fay 

- a horizontal valley metropolis and its metabolic interactions 

Can we read Schwäbisch Gmünd (SG) as part of a unique horizontal landscape metropolis? The authors develop a project which thinks from the valley: how can the western city entrance be transformed into a resilient network, which is interwoven with the valley, its history, geology, infrastructures and landscapes? 

The project site is currently situated in a state of isolation, characterized by typological contracts, hidden landscape-lines, infrastructural cuts and fragmentations. The area spans from the edges of the northern valley slope of the Nepperberg and the St. Salvator, the train tracks, the Lorcher Str. and the (yet) hidden Rems river in the second row: that's the starting point of a strategy, which works with the found structures and identified (landscape) lines, by following them, their structures and effective spaces until deep into the valley metropolis: the City-Village-Line (which reads the valley as urban carpet), the Rems-Water-Line (water system & geological heritage) and the Infrastructure-Line (train lines & logistics/production sites). They formulate the spatial and conceptual framework for the transformation of the western city entrance of SG. At this point of transition in the valley, which once was outside the old city core, a concept is created which uses the given structural diversity and analyzed scales, and transforms the identified lines into thickened and interwoven fingers, the so-called Gmünder Talfinger (the Gmünder Valley Fingers).

3 fingers,  1 ribbon ++points – interconnected and loaded!

As new address for the interwoven Valley City SG a new type of rural urbanity is being created here: The Garden Gate (Garten-Tor) as interface at the Lorcher Straße,  greets the Valley inhabitants and gives a glimpse into a productive future for SG. The street itself turns into an innovation & garden-mile with the adjacent Gmünder Courtyards (Höfe), where in the Maker-Courts (Macher-Höfe) together with the Gmünder Wadi and the Wood-Quarter with the integrated Building Hub, diverse urban production systems, research with metabolic flows and innovative dwelling and working types are tested. 

Along the Rems, a hybrid farm-river-landscape is being created, the Rems-Allmende (Coop). Those circular and self-sufficient community courtyard-neighborhoods formulate new types of communal living and working with respect to the existing buildings and grain. The Rems is strengthened in its dynamics and ecological state and  reconnected in order to make it tangible.

The existing buildings along the train tracks are integrated into the maker boulevard as a shared space and connected with a new bridge over into the new zeitwerk.courtyard, which understands itself as continuation of the citywide youth and leisure ribbon. By offering public functions at the feet of the Nepperberg, a strong connection is made leading up into the slope landscapes towards the new Salvator Observatory. 

As connective element between the fingers, a sequence of hybrid landscape spaces is developed, beginning at the valley slope, over the train tracks, leading down to the Rems and the adjacent leisure and education landscapes. Central Element is  the Hanging Water-Garden, which revives the currently unused tunnel-roof and transforms it into a hybrid square figure between the city entrance and the garden-gate. A hybrid park landscape in the heart of the Rems-Allmende as an agricultural park with large flood meadows is winding down towards the Rems and its new energy & landscape bridge. 

hybrid typologies for metabolic interactions!

The proposed typologies follow the goal of creating circular architectural and landscape answers and the creation of strong atmospheric spaces, which celebrate the metabolic interactions and the alternative aesthetics of a design approach in the Anthropocene. 

In the Maker-Courtyard the hidden Mühlbach is revealed and re-interpreted: as a hybrid retention space, the Gmünder Wadi. Rainwater and Roofwater, as well as greywater from the adjacent buildings and the new fish farm in the existing and transformed  hall, is filtered and locally infiltrated/evaporated, thus creating microclimatic and ecological effects. The integrated former Bifora-Building is transformed into the Maker-House (Macher-Haus) of the quarter. It is framed by the Maker Boulevard, which accompanies together with hybrid squares, groves and a wild climate seam the train tracks and leads over into the central Water-Garden Square. 

Along the Lorcher Str. a strong and nuanced line of business and production buildings with diverse and flexible typologies is aligned. Integrated Garden Facades will shape the new image of the Lorcher Str. as Garden & Innovation Mile, as well as with an adapted profile of the street, with wide sidewalks with blue-green retention modules, trees and a fast-bike-lane leading towards the train station and the bike-hub. 

The Hanging Gardens as interface between the different spaces host furthermore the Mobility Hub for the new quarter. On its roof a public play- and sports-landscape unfolds and winds down as a hanging staircase towards the square and street crossing, staging this unique situation as “Gmünder Bühne”. In continuation towards the tunnel entrance (yet another valley transitional space), the authors propose a valley-reference: in later phases connections over the highway and the transformation of the car selling buildings could be implemented, as for instance as climate machine/-forest patch with an elevated pathway & observatories. 

As hybrid “garden” space, the Water Gardens generate flexible usages of the tunnel roof by a lightweight-scaffold construction. A precise column grid and wide spans the formerly unused surface turns into the main square of the new quarter without losing its technical requirements. Over flying staircases and the roofs, users are invited to experience the second level. Integrated rainwater-catchers on this level collect rainwater and lead it over to the Water Storage Tower, or release it as spray mist during hot days, which turns together with the hanging green vegetation the scaffolding into a climate machine. The structure is interweaving the adjacent buildings and culminates into the new Garten-Tor (Garden Gate), the highlighted transition space at Lorcher Str. 

The Garten-Tor is formulated as a sister building, which directly communicates with its surroundings. At the square side the so-called Bürgerhaus (citizen house) is being developed as a high point with a public and transparent base, which turns into a more massive and refined haptic leading up from the scaffold height, resulting in a double gabled front, which refers back to the old city core- however being transformed  it into a productive future, by integrating PV panels and habitats structures into the tilted roof landscape. At the level of the Hanging Water Garden, the Garden Gate crosses the street as green Passage, leading into the Allmende as a Vertical Food Hub. As part of the farmland structures,  the greenhouse inspired building with an integrated Kita & Bio-Café, generates most of the food products for the rems-community and distributes it directly to the rems-coop and the public in the ground-level or the agricultural square.


for circular programming & a life within metabolic flows!

For the different spaces schematic thoughts for circulatory organized and self-sufficient systems are developed. Metabolic interfaces are f.e. part of the Rems-Allmende, such as the Bio-Hub, the central composting and energy depot (biomass) or the food square at the garden gate, where food products are directly distributed. In the Holz-Hof, the Wood Quarter, a productive Wood Coop with ateliers and manifold dwelling typologies in transition to Vogelhofstr. is being created around the Building Hub, the Baulager. All demolition and building materials are recycled and made usable again. General goal is to reach a Zero Waste Quarter (water, food, energy, building materials), which can serve as a model project for the rems valley metropolis. 

Collectively organized courtyard communities shape the new neighborhoods of the Rems-Allmende. Multileveled Row- & Townhouses with a manifold roof- and facade-landscape along Lorcher Str. turn into small scale courthouses and productive sheds towards the Rems and its revitalized shore areas and the aligned  Rems-Promenade. The farm courts are integrated into the agricultural farmlands and showcase a new type of living with and through the integration of metabolic flows. A new pedestrian bridge with a water mill on the Rems produces, together with the Bio- Hub and the PV cells on the roofs, the necessary energy to generate a self-sufficient system for the Rems-Allmende. 

towards a valley city ---- an implementation strategy 

The authors propose a step-by-step development of the area: starting off with key projects, which formulate the first spatial settings, which will develop a model character for the further process. Goal is to develop a flexible framework, in which afterwards further settings and add-ons can be implemented. 

Landscape & Infrastructure first: The most important infrastructural and landscape settings are tackled first, like the Rems-Allmende Park with the first Rems-Farm (founding of the Coop Rems), the construction of the Garden Gate and the Hanging Water Gardens, the Building Hub in the future Wood Quarter (to start right from the beginning with a recycling of demolition and waste material), as well as trigger sites in the Maker Courtyards, like the Gmünd Wadi with the Fish Farm and the Maker Boulevard with the Maker House in the old Bifora Building. 

All further steps will intensify the valley cooperations and the triggered processes: the Coop/Allmende will establish itself and  grow. A shore park on both sides of the Rems in the direction of the valley towards the Kulturfabrik (with a River Balcony) coming from the city will be developed. The  Wood Quarter with workshops and hybrid living options will be developed  around the Building Hub and the Maker Court will establish itself around the Wadi with experimental work and production laboratories and buildings. A new bridge over the train tracks will continue the Maker Boulevard into the Landscape Ribbon leading up to the Nepperberg. Here, the new Zeitwerk will start off with key projects, such as the public Zeit-Fabrik in continuation of the citywide youth and play ribbon.

As a valley city, SG will deepen and interweave its connections with the valley with further settings and a constant process of exchange and cooperation. The Talfinger will steadily grow and thicken, leading into a resilient and dynamic future for a living in the valley metropolis. 

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