The Lanferbach at Schngelberg estate in Gelsenkirchen

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Formerly a sewer with sheet-pile walls, the Lanferbach now runs by the Schungelberg estate in a leisurely fashion.

Overflow of one of the overgrown infiltration swales

Lanferbach

Overflow of one of the overgrown infiltration swales

Building Exhibition Emscher Park
The steps by the bed of the stream invite people to stay for a while and play. An old brick wall was used for their construction.

Most of the planners from elsewhere had to get used to two things over the ten years of the International Building Exhibition at Emscher Park: first to the stock of language that had emerged in Germany's melting pot, borrowing all kinds of vocabulary that would otherwise be unfamiliar from the various immigrant groups. And to a kind of person that does not take at lot of things particularly seriously. For example, all the tillefitt, or fuss, about the IBA. Many of these have still not realized that a building exhibition took place in the Ruhr at all, and that countless projects were completed or considered that had a great deal of influence on the local people's living conditions. It is only when your own front garden has been decontaminated or an almost completely natural stream appears instead of a concrete drainage gutter that even the people who didn't particularly care -it was all 'six of one' or 'jacket or trousers', as the German expression has it -that the landscape had taken a turn for the better. It is possible to walk around in it again, to experience it.

One project that became known well beyond the boundaries of the Ruhr is in Gelsenkirchen. A Jugendstil estate in front of the giant Rungenberg spoil heap, also known as Mount Slag, was redeveloped and tastefully complemented with slender terraced housing. The Schungelberg housing estate for miners had previously been grey, surrounded by dismal green, and bordered by an open, evil-smelling sewer. After redevelopment the complex felt completely different - also helped by attractive open spaces. These appear in the form of nicely proportioned streets, attractive gardens and above all a park which came into being as part of a new rainwater concept. The Lanferbach had previously been a canalized stream in which contaminated water from the Rungenberg slag heap flowed towards the river Emscher. Today the liquid

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Before it was redesigned the Lanferbach was forced into a concrete corset and ran through a fenced-off area - 'Danger - No Entry' was the order of the day.

Before it was redesigned the Lanferbach was forced into a concrete corset and ran through a fenced-off area - 'Danger - No Entry' was the order of the day.

Site management in the mud of Monte Schlacko

Infiltration swale under construction. Water started to accumulate here even in the building phase.

Infiltration swale under construction. Water started to accumulate here even in the building phase.

Street water is filtered and purified in retention basins that are integrated into the design, then fed underground to the stream.

Along with the Rungenberg slag heap, which has now been planted, the Lanfer-bach now functions as a coherent public park area, and is used by the residents for all kinds of activities.

The Lanferbach at Schüngelberg estate in Gelsenkirchen poison flows out of a collective drain into a sewer. This opened up the way for water management in which rainwater from the Schüngelberg estate flows first through various purification stages and retention basins, and is then released in a controlled way into the restored and completely redesigned Lanferbach. Street water runs straight into the retention basins by the Lanferbach and seeps towards the stream through water-bearing strata.

A valuable biotope will develop along a length of just under 800 metres, but this is not all. In fact the estate residents have acquired a new park, which is used a great deal, especially by the large proportion of Turkish inhabitants. Steps intended as seats, built of re-used bricks, draw austere lines in the otherwise gently contoured park landscape. These are the meeting places, which are reached via winding pathways that adapt to the natural design of the park. And the final benefit from the new design is that existing harmful waste was disposed of safely, which at least for the residents of the Schüngelberg estate is not schissko-jedno - which is derived from the Polish wszystko jedno, and means roughly the same as 'jacket or trousers'.

The Lanferbach at Schüngelberg estate in Gelsenkirchen

Sch Ngelberg GelsenkirchenLanferbachLanferbach

Housing estate in Echallens near Lausanne

The meandering channel is in the central square in the estate, and shows the history of the course of a river with changing loops. At the end a rhythmically pulsating movement is set up that is reminiscent of organic forms (John Wilkes' Flowforms).

The fountain with its watercourse is a special feature of this estate.

The meandering channel is in the central square in the estate, and shows the history of the course of a river with changing loops. At the end a rhythmically pulsating movement is set up that is reminiscent of organic forms (John Wilkes' Flowforms).

Organic Flowform

Creative people do not always look back on their early work with particular pleasure. We sometimes hear that the artist is pleased to have developed further. This implies an admission that time passes by one's own work as well, that it is subject to fashion - even when designing open space. But ultimate artists are content to know that every work is a step along a path, without which it would not have been possible to reach one's current position - and this alone means that every work is valid in its own right. And as well as this it is enjoyable to see the effect of earlier projects on the thinking of a whole profession, and even on related ones.

This may well be the case for the Dreiseitl studio and the Hameau de la Fontaine estate project in Echallens. In the early 1980s, surface water drainage, swale infiltration, purification in reed beds, installing underground cisterns and re-using rainwater were all seen as newfangled ideas in urban development that people were a little suspicious of. And so it was all the more courageous of the people of Echallens near Lausanne to commit themselves to an experiment by using a modern rainwater management idea for an estate with ninety dwellings. Since 1986, all the surface water here has flowed along the streets in gutters to a sealed treatment bed. Here the roots of reeds and rushes, in symbiosis with the filter floor, remove the harmful substances from the water before some of it runs into storage tanks. From here water is pumped to the central village well, which is a meeting-place, but also a sculpture, whose impressive volume of flowing water sets currents in motion, whose veil of water reacts to wind, and that is perhaps reminiscent of the fact that the source of all life once sprang from the village fountain. As well as this, a play and adventure area draws its water supply from the tanks. The rest of the rainwater flows into a retention pond, where it evaporates, soaks away or is fed slowly into a stream. The presence of delicate amphibians in the form of alpine salamanders and palmated newts demonstrates the high quality of the water from the reed and rush basins, and also show the importance of artificial water features as second-hand survival bio-topes.

It was clear from a very early stage in the Hameau de la Fontaine that how the disciplines of art, open-space architecture, leisure research and environmental technology fuse together to form a single theme.

The centre of the village with a treatment biotope under a platform that is available for performances.
Paved basins show how the rainwater drains away.
Daylighting Alna River
Here a second-hand biotope becomes a habitat for creatures under threat, in this case an alpine salamander.

A naturally designed retention pond forms the edge of the estate.

A naturally designed retention pond forms the edge of the estate.

Daylighting Alna RiverBear Fountain Oslo Majorstuen

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