Walking can be used in many ways. In Munich’s Green belt, the planners of a system of paths used it as a professional creative practice. Secondly, it was co-creative action for the participation process for path planning. Third, it was used as practice of path-making. And finally, fourth, it was a planning method to decipher old and new traces and trails. In this interplay walking could contribute to understand the complexity of large scale landscapes and its entanglements. Find my thoughts on walking and path-making in the recent issue of Chinese Landscape Architecture, 5/2023, 329, Volume 39, 6-13, translated by CHANG Xiangqi. Illustration: Frederik Stähling
I am very honored to give the 2022 Steve Strom Memorial Lecture at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Department of Landscape Architecture on October, 26.
Opening processes of landscape planning and design to people of diverse backgrounds is key as all are needed in making landscapes more resilient to climate change. I will circe around the question how guided walks, storytelling and mapping can to be successful means to mutually engage with, perceive and understand multifunctional green spaces, inspire ownership, and build capacity for the landscape’s sustainable transformation.
Walking can be a means of co-creative design practice in transforming landscapes. The explorative walks through Osnabrück´s Green Fingers triggered arguments on conflicting objectives on how to create a climate-resilient city – all embedded in and inspired by a co-creative atmosphere of walking together. And the walks through the western parts of Munich’s greenbelt allowed to exchange perspectives and ideas on how to design a resilient system of paths through sensitive nature reserves next to the newly built city district of Freiham.
Foto: Matthias Lampert
Read my short review on the wonderful project “Metropolitan Trails”.
Topic and relevance
The approach of metropolitan trails is highly relevant as it considers paths / trails as important infrastructure in metropolitan regions. The trails shown on https://metropolitantrails.org/en/trails lead through areas that are usually not seen as terrain for walking, wandering or any sort of walking appropriation. Through promoting access, they are a strategic contribution to a sustainable, liveable metropolis.
Process and community
The fact, that creating the trails addresses different groups of people such as authorities, project leaders and inhabitants sets the spotlight on the process of creation. Instead of promoting a top-down design (as it is common when designing “premium” hiking-trails in Germany as an example) it supports co-creative processes with the communities along the trails. This distinguishes this project from other trail-making procedures.
It still needs to be tested and evaluated how the communities along and on the trails are linked with the international (European) community of trail-makers created by Metropolitantrails.org.
Outcomes and impact
There are clearly visible benefits both for everyday life of citizens and for the professional realm of mobility and spatial planning. The created trails may be used for everyday practises such as walking to school or cycling to work. And they often provide missing links in the network of walking paths in the metropolis and thus are means of improving the infrastructure of public spaces.
The lessons https://metropolitantrails.org/en/academy aim at combining the physical space (route, trail) and socially constructed space (stories, narratives). This is highly important in the context of resilient planning of the metropolis as it fosters a transformative way of planning and governance.
The lessons are hands-on and philosophical at the same time and thus “talk” to different groups of people. They give advice for those who want to try things out and for those who aim at a complex understanding of the role trail-making plays in metropolitan areas.
The project metropolitan trails inspired me to use the provided material in teaching and to create European summer schools with the topic of trail-making.
The Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin – an exemplary feature of a climate-resilient city structure? During the pandemic it provided open space to exercise, to experience the changing seasons and to enjoy being OUTside withIN the city while easily maintaining distance to others.
My virtual talk at Goethe Institut, Moskau (June 15, 2021), focuses on visions and paths to a resilient city. My suggestions are: Design resilient city structures! Implement a system of public pathways! Test utopian ideas with interventions! Develop common visions on co-creative walks!
How can Munich´s green belt be appreciated, designed as open space, protected as biodiverse habitat as well as qualified for landscape-related recreation? At AESOP Conference “Regional Design”, I reflected on how walking workshops and co-creatively designing pathscapes can be a tool to approach this question. Taking the project “Paths form landscape” as an example, I proposed the following six strategic approaches to transformative planning in green belts:
:: Engaging stakeholders from different municipalities and with different professional backgrounds in “walking workshops” that are drivers for intensive discussions and creative thinking.
:: Focussing on linear open spaces, the resilient network of paths as a strong framework.
:: Providing room for experiments to fill the voids of this framework by individual appropriation of different groups.
:: Identifying pathscapes as starting points to build and strengthen public awareness for potentials and challenges of green spaces in times of climate change.
:: Pushing site-specific regional designs.
:: Generating transformative knowledge through designing.
Successfully transforming riverscapes depends on regional cooperation and transdisciplinary collaboration. Spurred on by the European Water Framework Directive, many European regions are working on improving the ecological quality of rivers and reshaping the adjacent landscapes. So, planning teams consisting of landscape architects, urban planners, architects and ecologists work on integrated strategies for designing sustainable riverscapes. To make sure that these strategies are supported by regional key actors and can thus be implemented successfully, co-creative processes are needed. Through reflecting on experiences and findings from projects of my design practice, I have identified three key success factors for successfully designing riverscapes in a co-creative manner: Walk! Find typologies! Design spatial visions! These success factors are discussed in the light of recent publications on landscape architecture research. Finally, interconnections with the topic of urbanization and locality are shown. Find the text in the book Water-Related Urbanisation and Locality!
Find the text “Wege machen Landschaft. Landschaftsbezogenes Wegekonzept für den Münchner Grüngürtel” written by Matthias Lampert, Börries v. Detten and me in the current issue of “Stadt + Grün” here: https://stadtundgruen.de/artikel/wege-machen-landschaft-12744.html It presents our findings on the vital roles of paths in the diverse landscapes at Munich´s urban fringe. (Sketch: Börries v Detten)
Watch the interview on our project “Productive. Sustainable. Lively. Green fingers for climate-resilient Osnabrück”, funded by BMBF, online: https://www.nachhaltige-zukunftsstadt.de/im-gespraech/henrik-schultz/ (© Gröschel Branding, Berlin 2019)
Walks are key to create awareness for the potential of green fingers (radial green structures), to discuss challenges and ideas and to inspire action on resilient land use. (Photo: Hubertus von Dressler)