Design Studio (Winter 2021-2022)

spongeLANDSCAPE . water regulation of the Altmühl river

Topic. Rivers and streams are currently becoming the focus of political attention because of the dangers they pose. Over the past 200 years, the major rivers and small streams in Germany have been almost completely 'corrected' and diverted into artificial channels in order to make better use of the adjacent areas and waterways themselves. Last but not least, the aim was also to be able to better control flood events. Accordingly, the meandering course of the Altmühl from its source to its confluence with the Danube in Kelheim was regulated so that it flows in a uniform riverbed. The largest intervention along the Altmühl is the controversial construction of the Main-Danube Canal, which has profoundly changed everyday life in the valley as well as the landscape character and ecology of the Altmühl Valley.

Aim. The result is criticized today. "The Altmühl has degenerated into a monotonous, structurally poor "soulless Altmühl canal", which very much restricts the natural habitat in the floodplain and has a detrimental effect on the river ecology as well as on the landscape." (Ansbach Water Management Office) Therefore, from the institutional side, an "ecological redesign" is being pursued in order to create new habitats along the river. In addition, in times of longer dry periods and heavier storm events due to climate change, efforts must be made to keep as much water as possible in the landscape. In these conversion programs, water retention is targeted on a small scale in the area of the river course, but not on the land in the surrounding area and settlement areas. A purely ecological-functional consideration of the structures to be built along the watercourses also loses sight of the fact that a turn towards water must also generate social qualities of the landscape.  

Bachelor studio: spongeLANDSCAPE

River transects of the Altmühl. In the bachelor project, open spaces are to be designed typologically that can hold water like a sponge in the landscape in the closer or wider context of the Altmühl and at the same time enable further social uses. The goal is not to reserve large-scale polder areas for water or nature conservation, but to use potentials in existing spatial structures. Both settlement areas and agricultural land can be considered here, which should ultimately generate added value for the public as a sponge. Similar to the way people in cities have been given access to water again in recent decades, this should also be implemented in the landscape. Between the Altmühlsee and the confluence with the Main-Danube Canal near Dietfurt, our design studio aims to find solutions for this at a freely selectable location. These solutions then should be established as new general open space typologies along the Altmühl.


Master studio: alluvialLANDSCAPE

Open space design with urban development for Kelheim. In the master project, we are investigating how cities along the Danube protect themselves against floods today. For the city of Kelheim, where the Altmühl flows into the Danube in the course of the Main-Danube Canal, principles are to be designed by which the city can develop in the future. In urban and open space planning concepts, it must be clarified how a commitment to water can be achieved here and at the same time how future-oriented, integrated flood protection must look. This should result in new open space typologies that are able to balance nature conservation, flood protection, settlement development and social demands. These are to be expressed differently at the various topographical levels in the city.



Analysis. As a basis for all designs, the overall system of the Altmühl and its interactions with the Danube should be understood. For this purpose, we study the Altmühl and the Danube in the entire area of the Altmühlalb and the Swabian-Frankish-Albvorland. Furthermore, we deal with the effects of climate change in this region, address the past handling of environmental disasters as well as regulating interventions and their consequences, and find out which potentials lie in existing and historical landscape structures.

Field-trip. In addition to a planned excursion, the students are to independently verify and expand the knowledge gained from maps and aerial photographs on site.

Links (German language)
Kulturlandschaftliche Gliederung Altmühlalb (LfU)
Die Altmühl (Wasserwirtschaftsamt Ansbach)