Candidate – Germany
Submission by: Jessica Haitz, MWS Projektentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (MWSP)
Project name: TAYLOR PARK, green industrial zone
MWS Projektentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (MWSP) develops and markets the 46-ha TAYLOR industrial zone in Mannheim. One of the development’s main features is the high proportion of green space (21%), which mainly comprises the 10-ha TAYLOR PARK. The former Taylor Barracks are thus being transformed into Mannheim’s greenest industrial zone. Some 1,000 trees have been planted along the streets and in the TAYLOR PARK, the area’s large green core that links important routes and provides plenty of space for sports and recreation. The park delivers high recreational value for people who live and work in the vicinity. The offers in the park support a good work-life balance. This includes a multi-use games area, a skate park, a calisthenics park, table tennis tables, running tracks, a meadow theatre, sun loungers and several historic installations.
Since it opened in 2019, TAYLOR PARK has been very popular.
The park has been endowed with a wide range of sports options. From the focus on fitness, activity and dynamics in the south of the park to the skating facilities and the multi-use games area at the centre of the park to the playground slide in the north, the park addresses various age groups. With its wide space and various seating options, the park gives families as well as groups and individuals the opportunity to relax and enjoy nature. The park also establishes a strong link to adjacent parts of the city. It provides new sports opportunities in walking distance from the adjacent neighbourhoods. Some offers were developed in collaboration with future users, e.g. a boules field at the request of the current neighbours and a skate park for the young ones. These places have become attractive new meeting hubs.
TAYLOR PARK comprises the area influenced by the Neckar River with its heavy soil and the area influenced by the Rhine River with its abundant sand deposits in the north of the park. The range of different geological conditions with various soil qualities have resulted in great biodiversity. Apart from the existing hedge habitat, MWSP has created areas populated with location-typical, species-rich plant communities (e.g. meadow strips under trees, wildflower meadows, calcareous grassland). In regions like Mannheim, sandy grassland is usually rare, as it requires low-nutrient soil. Due to the influence of the Rhine with its sand deposits, a number of patches in the TAYLOR PARK are low in nutrients and thus ideal for sandy grassland. The park and its meadows offer shelter and plenty of food for countless regional insects, birds and other animal species.
There are a number of positive aspects that benefit the climate. The focus is on recultivating the area that delivers a key contribution to the city’s climate and water balance. Previously sealed surfaces were re-opened to create space for the park and allow the soil to breathe. The development project involved the movement of about 23,000 m³ of earth. The plans for the 10-ha park are subject to groundwater protection requirements. The park’s boasts a “green”, ecologically exemplary drainage concept based on decentralised infiltration. The rainwater flows into swale trenches along the roads. In the event of heavy rain, is water that spills over is redirected to the TAYLOR PARK for use by the ecosystem. Additionally, 1,000 new trees have been planted, including 700 in the TAYLOR PARK. Their evaporation has a positive influence on the air quality and the local temperature development.
Wellbeing of visitors/users
TAYLOR PARK – Mannheim’s first new park in more than 30 years – delivers valuable space and living quality for neighbouring urban districts. Thanks to the pedestrian and bicycle paths built through the park and the proximity to public transportation, the facilities are easy to reach. The integration of a park in an industrial zone has resulted in a green core with a wide usage spectrum. It provides opportunities for active lunch breaks as well as countless recreational options. Being located far enough from residential areas, the meadow theatre even enables noisier uses such as evening or weekend concerts. This colourful offer and the open design appeal to a wide range of users. Trees and benches provide shade and opportunities to relax. Furthermore, the wide spectrum promotes physical activity – both individually and in groups. Facilities include a multi-use games area, a skate park, a calisthenics park, table tennis tables and running tracks.
Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials
The park features a rather conservative basic design. In keeping with the genius loci, the park concept makes effective use of former material of the location.
MWSP determined high standards for the selection of plants. The 700 trees in the TAYLOR PARK structure the park, emphasise the spatial modelling and match the surrounding architecture. High-growing trees have been planted to screen off the large industrial units. On the western side of the park, smaller trees have been planted to accommodate the lower structures of the small businesses. Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) draw a seamless connection to the same species of trees in the Käfertal forest. The meadows of the TAYLOR PARK are very special and establish rare grassland communities such as nutrient-poor grassland. Depending on the lime content, the soil is suitable for growing grey hair grass or blue hair grass. The park also hosts rare insects such as sand wasps and bow-winged grasshoppers. An “urban” meadow with a wide variety of flowers (certified regional seeds suitable for the location) is part of the traditional cultural landscape and contributes to the conservation of species. The park design enabled the excavated earth to be reused. The old cobblestones, too, were reused. Available earth was recycled and reused; for example, the hills in the park were built from this material. Moreover, a Nissen hut, a typical structure of the US barracks, was retained, artistically upgraded and re-erected under the name “CONVERSIO – Sculpture of Remembrance”. US history is a topic that various features of the park draw attention to. The reduced design shifts the focus to the special colour concept. The park equipment is kept in grey, while the gear in the multi-use games area and on the fitness hills clearly stands out in pink and green.
The overall design
The results of the citizen participation in Mannheim’s green conversion process were also incorporated in the transformation of the Taylor Barracks into an industrial zone. The urban plans, which were prepared by the architect’s firm Francis Kéré in collaboration with MAN MADE LAND, aim at opening up the former off-limits area and restoring the green for the benefit of the population. The plans provide for a long green belt at the centre of the area, which will be surrounded by industrial units of various sizes. An E-shaped barracks building will be preserved and recommissioned as a hotel with loft offices. The adjacent courtyard with the former chapel will be upgraded for use as catering and recreation space for the TAYLOR PARK. The design of the TAYLOR PARK was inspired by the Rhine landscape. The steep slopes on the sides emphasise the flat space at the centre and channel the gaze to the surroundings beyond the industrial zone. The topography resulting from the concept enables different speeds of movement. The flat centre, which includes the fast bicycle track through the park, enables quick transit, while the paths through the hills on the fringes offer fun and new experiences. The well-developed footpaths and bicycle routes establish important connections to the adjacent parts of town. The newly created park areas form the first major section of the north-eastern green belt, which will extend from downtown to the outskirts of the city. Apart from contributing to a healthy balance, the design quality of TAYLOR PARK’s green areas makes a positive contribution to the territory beyond the park.
The impact on the environment
The implementation of the urban planning vision for a north-eastern green belt – the networking of green areas and open spaces far beyond the city’s borders – represents a key element of Mannheim’s conversion. Apart from perfecting the green belt, the TAYLOR PARK affects the environment in various ways. For example, the green aisle serves as a fresh air corridor that helps to improve the urban climate, especially in the north of Mannheim. Numerous trees will support the evaporation and cooling of adjacent city areas. At the same time, the park serves recreational purposes and provides shelter for plants and animals, thereby giving the city of Mannheim a substantial ecological boost. TAYLOR PARK offers new possibilities to experience nature, explore the local flora and fauna and engage in various recreational and sports activities. The key link provides mobility for pedestrians and cyclist, thereby helping to reduce emissions. A protected habitat has been retained and remains off limits for park visitors. Moreover, various meadows and species have been planted in the TAYLOR PARK. Signs have been set up to explain the various features and convey interesting information. The old buildings were demolished. The rubble was recycled for use as base layer for the paths that were built. Surplus earth was used for designing the hills. Soil contaminated by the military use underwent rehabilitation. This has benefited the ecosystem, as the contaminants that had been left over from the barracks – such as metals – have been removed from the soil. A soil expert intensively monitored all earth movements in the groundwater protection zone.
Innovative value off the project
With its space of 10 ha – which means 21% of the park’s total area – TAYLOR PARK is a unique asset in the highly industrialised city of Mannheim. As the green core of a new industrial zone, TAILOR PARK features nature and recreational space on former military logistics area at a special location. Within the individual areas, an ecological balance has been established by introducing biodiversity in nature-oriented spaces and habitats. The development of location-typical habitats such as sandy grassland is just one of the special characteristics of the TAYLOR PARK. Another special feature is the integration of the above-mentioned north-eastern green belt in the park concept. By means of TAYLOR PARK’s green area, MWSP furnishes the needed balance with respect to the industrial development and closes the gap in the north-eastern green belt between the future BUGA23 and the Käfertal forest. The park also addresses the topic of sports, combining work and recreation in a way unusual for an industrial zone. For example, the facilities include a skate park that was planned in cooperation with Mannheim skaters, a multi-use games area, a calisthenics park and a fitness track. This unique spectrum provides both new, innovative enterprises as well as established businesses with additional incentives to relocate to TAYLOR. The broad range of options for the neighbourhood also increases the zone’s acceptance. TAYLOR PARK deliberately addresses not only some 2,200 people who work for nearby companies, but all user groups starting from the school age, offering them the space they so urgently need. The TAYLOR zone thus represents a special example of Mannheim’s green conversion of former military installations to useful urban space.