The SourceCivil Engineering MagazineSlideshow: Elevated ‘floating’ garden structure proposed for German city

Slideshow: Elevated ‘floating’ garden structure proposed for German city

By Catherine A. Cardno, Ph.D.

  • a circular garden with white paths radiating from the center is visible in the foreground, while people walk and plants flower. The cityscape is visible in the background.
  • looking out from beneath a circular structure with a stairway rising to the left of the viewer
  • a circular raised garden covered in trees and tall enough for vehicles to pass beneath is visible down a street that pedestrians walk on
  • looking down a gray paved street with red bicycle lanes with a white and mirrored circular structure visible above an intersection
  • the circular shape of a raised garden is seen through the rooftops
  • diagram of the interior rooms of a circular building
  • an aerial shot of the city with a circular rooftop visible at an intersection

Architecture and urban design firm MVRDV, based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, has won joint first place in the master plan design competition for Ettlinger Tor, an area in the city of Karlsruhe, Germany. The centerpiece of the firm’s design is an enormous elevated “floating” garden that would be located at rooftop height above an intersection.

The city is currently split between densely packed urban blocks that extend south from the city’s center to its Karlsruhe Palace, built in the early 18th century, and the city’s green parks and forests located to the north. The conceptual master plan would bring greenery — both at street and rooftop level — to the southern portion of the city.

The elevated, bowl-shaped garden would be located above the city’s Ettlinger-Tor-Platz intersection. It would offer views across the rooftops toward the palace, thus conceptually “returning” access to a rooftop view to the people by emulating the palace’s “privileged view of the city,” according to the design team. The mirrored glass of the structure’s lower portions would also reflect a view of the cityscape to the ground.

The top of the garden would contain 32 radial paths that would mimic the radial street map of Karlsruhe. The elevated garden would also do more than offer public outdoor space to residents and visitors — its body would house a community forum and hotel.

Additional low-rise buildings with green roofs are also part of the conceptual master plan for Ettlinger Tor created by MVRDV.

The MVRDV master plan design proposal is being consolidated with the joint first-place master plan design of Max Dudler Architekten. A decision on whether the floating garden will be part of the final master plan will be made by the end of this year.

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