Peter Latz

Posted: January 28, 2012 in Design - Green Designers
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Bio: He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the Technical University of Munich (1964), and subsequently did postgraduate studies in urban planning at the RWTH Aachen (1968). He has held teaching positions at the Academie for Bouwkunst in Maastricht; the University of Kassel; and has been professor and chair of landscape architecture and planning at the Technical University Munich-Weihenstephan from 1983 until 2008 and has been appointed Emeritus of Excellence (2008). He is principal, with his wife Anneliese and his son Tilman, of Latz + Partners in Kranzberg, Germany. His most notable project is the hugely successful Duisburg Park.

His work has been published and exhibited internationally, and he continues to work on a wide range of projects, from urban and regional planning to large-scale landscape architecture to small open spaces. His research is in the field of alternative technologies connected with the long-term reclamation, development and maintenance of damaged landscapes. Latz was the recipient of the Grande Medaille d’Urbanisme from the Académie d’Architecture in Paris (2001), the first European Prize for Landscape Architecture (2002), the EDRA Places Award (2005) and the Green Good Design Award (2009).(Ref)

Duisburg-Nord Landscape Park in Germany

Conception and Creation:

Landschaftspark is a public park was designed in 1991 by Latz + Partner (Peter Latz), with the intention that it work to heal and understand the industrial past, rather than trying to reject it. The park closely associates itself with the past use of the site: a coal and steel production plant (abandoned in 1985, leaving the area polluted) and the agricultural land it had been prior to the mid 19th century.

The Landscape Park is an example of an up-to-date and intelligent approach to alternative environmental technologies and the reclamation of extensive industrial landscapes.

In Peter Latz’s landscape architecture, ecological and social concerns are translated into an individual aesthetic language that aims to achieve a timeless quality. The different layers and meanings of the sites rich in history are revealed and woven into networks of spatial and temporal relationships that follow rules of their own – the syntax of landscape. A sense of process and dynamism in sustainable landscape structures characterises the works, works that are open for change: they are spaces in development, not parks as finite set pieces. (Ref)

Influenced by deconstructionist philosophy. The binary pairs of park/waste, process/product and art/nature are inverted:

waste becomes park, product becomes process, nature becomes art.

Old structures found new uses, such as a diving center in a gasometer, a climbing park in the old coal bunkers, different pathways, an open air cinema, concert halls, a lookout on top of the former blast furnace and even a hostel.

Three types of recycling underly the park design.

1. Buildings were re-cycled and new uses were found for old buildings. Blast furnaces become accessible ‘follies’; concrete tanks become walled gardens; water tanks become water gardens and the  former sewage canal was turned into a method of cleansing the site.

2. He allowed the polluted soils to remain in place and be recycled through phytoremediation, and isolated soils with high toxicity in the existing bunkers.

3. Water is recycled.(Ref)

Phytoremediation


Design:

The park is divided into different areas, whose borders were carefully developed by looking at existing conditions (such as how the site had been divided by existing roads and railways, what types of plants had begun to grow in each area, etc).

 

 

This piecemeal pattern was then woven together by a series of walkways and waterways, which were placed according to the old railway and sewer systems. While each piece retains its character, it also interacts with the site surrounding it.

Within the main complex, Latz emphasized specific programmatic elements:

  • The concrete bunkers create a space for a series of intimate gardens.
  • Old gas tanks have become pools for scuba divers,
  • Concrete walls are used by rock climbers,
  • One of the most central places of the factory, the middle of the former steel mill, has been made into piazza.
  • Each of these spaces uses elements to allow for a specific reading of time.

The site was designed with the idea that a grandfather, who might have worked at the plant, could walk with his grandchildren, explaining what he used to do and what the machinery had been used for. The relics serve to show visitors how the industrial processes worked at the plant, thus embracing the importance of memory in a landscape. At Landschaftspark, memory was central to the design. Various authors have addressed the ways in which memory can inform the visitor of a site, a concept that became prevalent during Postmodernism.

If you set off today to climb to the viewing platform of the blast furnace, which is 70 metres high and accessible to all, you will be astonished by the panorama that confronts you. Continuous remodelling of the surroundings has converted an industrial waste land into a unique adventure park for both young and old.

In the summer of 1994 the Duisburg-Nord Country Park was presented to the public and opened to visitors for the first time. Already on this occasion of the park’s official opening, there were more than 50,000 visitors. Ten years later, the park is now being visited by more than 500,000 people every year..

Picture Michael Hein

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