Candidate – Germany

Submission by: Amt für Stadtgrün und Gewässer Abt. Freiraumentwicklung Leipzig

Project name: Rietzschke-Aue Sellerhausen

Short description

In Volkmarsdorf a district in the east of Leipzig a close-to-nature neighborhood park was successfully created. This new public green space is about 18,000 square meters and was built on former allotment plots. It serves to improve the leisure and recreational value of the neighbourhood, creates a climate oasis for the adjacent high-density residential areas and provides a valuable washland.

The cause for the project was the frequent flooding of parts of the allotment garden area during heavy rainfalls. Due to the poor drainage capacity of the previously piped stream course, the Östliche Rietzschke repeatedly overflowed its banks.

With the redesign, the watercourse of the Östliche Rietzschke was opened up. An intraurban nature experience area was created with a ecologically valuable stream, insect-friendly flower meadows and a wide range of opportunities for free playing. In the event of a flood, up to 14,000 cubic meter of rainwater can be collected and stored. In favor of a near-natural water balance, the water then seeps away or evaporates on site.

This best practice project is an excellent example of how water management planning can be linked to urban planning goals and developed hand in hand with the urban community in order to successfully implement measures to mitigate the consequences of climate change in a short term.

Social Cohesion & Biodiversity

The Rietzschke-Aue Sellerhausen offers space for social encounters, diverse forms of recreation and undisturbed nature experiences. To this end, the Kleingartenverein Leipzig-Sellerhausen e. V. and the abutted Quartiersschule Campus Ihmelsstraße have set up with individual access to the public green space. There is a green classroom and various information boards that can be freely used for environmental education purposes.

A species protection tower, which was designed and built jointly by a timber construction artist and nature conservation associations, has nesting and sleeping quarters for Hymenoptera, bats and songbirds inside. Its appearance also acts as a new identity-establishing landmark for the residents of the district.

Large parts of the green space were designed as extensively managed long grass meadows. Additional sand lenses, field clearance cairns and deadwood offerings were integrated into this. The resulting increase in the range of flowers and habitats improves the livelihood of native insects. This in turn benefits insectivorous bird species that colonise the species protection tower.

Economic factors

Designing and cutting into space in city centres always has an economic factor. Distinct choices and policies have to be made and these have to be pursued in the further development of the area.

The objective of the transformation is to achieve welfare and wellbeing gains for the city and its inhabitants. In this  part of the city, nature was chosen above housing. Half of the total surface of 6,5 ha has been transformed into nature whereas it was previously paved. The remaining space consists of community facilities: a college, incubators, a public swimming pool and an event square.

Private housing was consciously banned at this top location along the river Lys and parking space was strongly diminished. This will probably result in a big (economical) gain for the city.

Climate and wellbeing of visitors/users

With its retention function and the additional large green, the new climate oasis provides people important climatic compensation functions in the event of increasing drought and heat. Cold air conduction and fresh air generation are made available to the general public “free of charge”. They also benefit the ecosystem, enabling biodiversity to better survive longer periods of drought by favourably influencing the site-specific water balance. The result is an increase in the natural resilience of humans and nature to climate change.

Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials

Native flowering plants, grasses and herbs were sown for the meadows. The mixture for this was selected in cooperation with a local expert for wild plant seeds and the Anhalt University of Applied Sciences to suit the site. A special mowing scheme, which was also developed in cooperation with the university, is used for extensive maintenance and for a targeted development of the meadows, scientific monitoring is carried out in parallel.

In close coordination with the planning office and the NABU Leipzig (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union), it was possible to plant predominantly native trees, shrubs and climbing trees that can particularly meet the current requirements of the consequences of climate change.

The overall design 

In addition to the guiding themes of the Masterplan Grün Leipzig grün-blau 2030″ climate adaptation, biodiversity, health and environmental justice, the new district park serves the theme of active mobility: as an important link for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, a route in the neighbourhood away from road traffic between two districts is made possible. This promotes the use of environmentally friendly forms of mobility..

The innovative value of the project

The city of Leipzig can already point to important successes in its efforts to become a “sponge city”. This means that sustainable restoration of the natural water cycle with nature-based solutions is the goal. To achieve this, politics and administration rely on close long-term partnerships in cooperation with civil society actors, scientific institutions and private companies. The Rietzschke-Aue Sellerhausen is making an important contribution to this.