|Designer/Client||Atelier LOIDL/Berlin government|
|Site Area||31.5 hectares|
|SDG||3.Good health and well-being|
11.Sustainable city and communites
14.Life on land
Designed by Atelier Loidl, Park am Gleisdreieck is a large park covering approximately 32 hectares, close to the new center of Berlin, with a rich and controversial history.
A little more than a kilometer south of Potsdamer Platz, near the left bank of the Landwehr Canal, is a vast triangular wasteland that once separated Kreuzberg to the east and Schöneberg to the west. It is called Gleisdreieck, which means “rail triangle”, and it was formed by the crossing of different railway lines that entered Berlin from the south since the middle of the 19th century.1
The journey there wasn’t straightforward. Used for decades by passenger and freight trains at the beginning of the last century, the site was seriously damaged during World War II and remained a wasteland with wild vegetation for a long time.2
The idea of turning the site into a park was first proposed by the Senate in 1997, which assumed high-quality civic engagement. In 2006, Berlin held a design competition as part of a multistage civic engagement process. The winner was Atelier Loidl’s “The green pause in the city”. About 31.5 hectares of green and leisure space have been connecting Kreuzberg and Schonenberg since 2011. The overgrown wasteland between the two districts has been developed and landscaped.
The eastern section on the Kreuzberg side was opened in 2011 while the western section on the Scheneberg side in 2013, and finally the Flaschenhals (bottleneck) south of Yorkbrucken in 2014. The park is “naturally” separated by railway lines running from north to south. 2
“It is a truly wonderful park; a huge asset for the district. The leisure value is simply incredible. I like the clever mix of old and new. For me, the park has a model character for the development of all parks in Berlin.”SENATE DEPARTMENT FOR URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL COMMUNICATION: DER PARK AM GLEISDREIECK. IDEE, GESCHICHTE, ENTWICKLUNG UND UMSETZUNG, 2013, S.86. (IN GERMAN ONLY)
Planning, citizen participation and design concept
The idea of Gleisdreieck as a park was first proposed in the 1970s. In 1997, Berlin and the railway company Vivico agreed to construct the park.3 The master plan and sketches came from Atelier Loidl, whose design was fully recognized in the competition.4 Work began in June 2008 with the cleaning of the Ostpark area, followed by the landscaping of the first part in August 2010.5
The site plan divided this previously abandoned space into two parts. One is a lively western park with sports fields, play areas and a sun terrace; the other is a quieter and more naturalistic eastern park, including a nature preserve (das Wäldchen) and preserved parts of the historic tracks.6
Once Berlin proposed to use the site as a park in 2006, it began to determine design priorities through public engagement. At first, the City sent 1,600 surveys to citizens within a 20-minute walk of the park, and 400 of them responded. The walking tour of the site and its unique ecology attracted lots of residents and developed the slogan “Off we go to the Park at Gleisdreieck”. 6
Other public events included workshops, design concept exhibitions, and a “planning weekends” with landscape architects that were shortlisted for the design competition. 500-600 citizens participated in the planning weekend, where designers, jury and citizens can have direct dialogues. The design firms used the community comments to continue to develop their proposals, and the jury also used this event as one of the criteria for selecting the winner of the overall competition. 6
At the same time, an online participation process collected citizens’ ideas about the park, and they came up with about 500 concepts. Finally, as the design process progressed, 32 working groups were formed to notify the blossom of the plan. These activities of the community engagement process involved people from the three neighbouring regions of Kreuzberg, Schoenberg and Mitte, and stimulated the community’s interest in a space that might unite these three regions. 6
The city found that there were two main stakeholder groups among those involved in the consultation process: the first sought quiet natural parks, and the second was interested in energetic parks that provide opportunities for sports and activities. From this came the concept of “park of two speeds”. Another theme that influenced the design process was Spurensicherung——the gathering of evidence, or protecting historical traces (and tracks) on the site. 6
Since 2015, the continuous development of the park has been accompanied by the User Advisory Committee, which was first elected in December 2014. It continues the participation of citizens from the planning period and consists of ten representatives of citizens, residents and important stakeholders (allocation POG, Rosenduftgarten, representatives of nearby neighborhoods), the administration and representatives of Grün Berlin GmbH. At the meeting, the current themes, future development of the park, emerging conflicts and possible solutions are discussed, while the sustainable solutions are sought. 7
Designers struggled with the strong desire, voiced on the part of the citizens, to preserve ‘literally every existing track’ and all occurrences of spontaneous nature. They wanted to pursue a different approach_for the park to ‘be reutilized through being transformed’.Jens Lachmund, Greening Berlin: The Co-Production of Science, Politics, and Urban Nature (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), 165.
The contrast between vastness and smallness forms a whole park. The narrow Dora Duncker Park is dominated by the remains of the railway and the so-called “track wilderness”.The wide road next to the Ostpark and Dora-Duncker-Park railway lines is part of the Berlin-Leipzig cycle path, which integrates the green corridor into the national cycle path system.5 The dividing railway line between the East and West parks can be bypassed at the north entrance via the Schoneberger Ufer bypass on the Landville Canal and at the south entrance via Yorckstrasse. In the middle area, the various parts of the park are connected by a cycle path that runs through the Ostpark between the railway line and the metro station area.
“Lots of lawn and a bit of railway romance.”Karin Schmidl, Berliner Zeitung, September 1, 2011, p. 20.
In addition to large areas of grass, parts of the park have isolated groups of trees, several forests, long wooden benches, sports and play areas, a skater area, and wide, accessible asphalt paths for pedestrians and cyclists.
Extensive lawns form the heart of the Ostpark. Straight concrete paths lead to Stangenwald and children’s play area, a grove with hay area, rose garden, rolling lane, ping-pong table and central plaza. The area is dotted with lounges and long wooden benches accentuate the park’s wide-open character.
The gravel area has been converted into an ecological area for beetle and lizard habitat and is connected to three sports fields.4 The skate park in the former Poststellwerk has the largest outdoor pool in Berlin. Active skaters were involved in the planning process for the facility. 5
Except for the Central meadow Schoneberger Wiese, the remaining green space’s appearance is determined by the underground U1/U3 and U2 elevated railway lines running west to east through the park. Events spaces such as flea markets, ball rolls and parties have been built under the viaduct of U2.8 A meadow and a wooden sun deck were built at the mouth of the long-distance railway tunnel, alongside a city beach with views of the Park West, the viaduct and Potsdamer Platz. Areas with pristine meadows and “urban wilderness” areas remain partially natural.
The area also has several playgrounds for children and climbing racks.The multi-purpose sports recreation area, in addition to the maze and horizontal bar, also provides trampoline gymnastics, roller skating, street-ball, goal shooting and other trendy sports. Small dog exercise areas complement the facilities. 5, 9
In this part of the park, railway relics and “track wilderness” dominate, with little change to the original vegetation. “When designing the park, particular attention was paid to preserving the typical vegetation of the railway wasteland, including urban forests, virgin meadows, semi-dry and sandy dry lawns.” Berlin-Leipzig Cycle Path Continues with concrete footpaths through the rest of the park to the Monument Bridge. One of the three paths is a track filled with bark mulch. Long benches and high swings complement the restrained design of the wooded area. 4
“The park’s design is characterized vy spacious central lawns and meadows edged by copses and single trees, and crossed by broad tree.”Futurelandscapes official website, 2018
From the first impression that this park gives to most people, it is a harmonious and vibrant urban space that is popular with citizens An urban space with a very high coverage rate, a city with clear functional divisions and each performing its own duties (Green Space). But if you understand the details of World War II in advance, understand the history of the location of the park, and understand the exquisite design concept, this will become an urban artwork, remembering history, embodying democracy, and making people happy. This is an ideal space where you can enjoy, presumptuously, and meditate.
- David Bravo Bordas, “Park am GleisdreieckBerlin.”, The European Prize for Urban Public Space, 2 May 2018, https://www.publicspace.org/works/-/project/g047-park-am-gleisdreieck, retrieved: 24 Oct 2021
- © 2021 Urbane Mitte, “THE PARK AM GLEISDREIECK”, URBANE MITTE AM GLEISDREIECK, 1 January,2018, https://urbane-mitte.de/en/the-park-am-gleisdreieck/,retrieved: 25 Oct 2021
- Karin Schmidl. “Lots of lawn and a bit of railway romance.” Berlin daily, September 1, 2011, p. 20.
- Design “Park on the Gleisdreieck” decided. Senate Department for Urban Development
- Grün Berlin GmbH, “Park at the Gleisdreieck. Berlin’s new city park.” Leaflet of the Senate Department for Urban Development, August 2011.
- Katharine Burgess, “Community Participation in Parks Development: Two Examples from Berlin”, The Nature of Cities, February 02, 2017,https://www.smartcitiesdive.com/ex/sustainablecitiescollective/community-participation-parks-development-two-examples-berlin/1027166/,retrieved: 26 Oct 2021
- © 2021 Grün Berlin GmbH, “Park am Gleisdreieck-Development & participation”, Grün Berlin, 2018, https://gruen-berlin.de/en/projects/parks/park-am-gleisdreieck/about-the-park,retrieved: 27 Oct 2021
- ©Gleisdreieck blog, “New plan for the Westpark.”, Gleisdreieck-blog.de, August 24, 2010, https://gleisdreieck-blog.de/2010/08/24/neuer-plan-fur-den-westpark/,retrieved: 28 Oct 2021
- Atelier Loidl, Map on site: Park on the Gleisdreieck. Draft Parkteil West, Grün Berlin GmbH, Senate Department for Urban Development. status, May 2011.