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QUALITIES:

COUNTRY:

Germany

CITY:

Dresden

YEAR:

2007

PRIZE:

2008

Before the intervention. The museum entrance was on the Landhausstraße façade and the garden on the southern side, for all its privileged position vis-à-vis the avenue and the square, had become a neglected and marginal space. © r+b landschaft s architektur. 01-01-1970

BEFORE

images  (11)

AFTER
 

description

previous state

When Dresden shed its walls, the empty space left by the eastern gateway, the main exit in the direction of Pirna, made way for Pirnaischer Platz, which is nowadays a major node in the city’s transport networks. One of the effects of this drastic urban transformation was that the orientation of the Landhaus was totally reversed. In 1775, when it was constructed by the master builder Friedrich August Krubsacius as the seat of the old parliament of Saxony, this late-baroque building backed on to the adjacent wall and faced directly on to the Landhausstraße. In those days, the most relevant façade of the building was that overlooking this narrow street because, two hundred metres further along, it opened into the Neumarkt and the Frauenkirche, one of Europe’s most impressive Lutheran churches. With the change of urban setting, however, the back of the Landhaus building and its inner garden were exposed to the open sweep of new square and to Wilsdruffer Straße, the busy avenue that runs into it today.

The incoherence of its orientation with regard to its immediate surroundings has continued until the present, even though the twentieth century subjected it to agitated times. It was razed to the ground in the massive allied bombings of February 1945 and faithfully reconstructed in 1965 by the East German authorities. Then it became the home of the Stadtmuseum and Städtische Galerie, which still have exhibitions about the history and present-day development of the city. The museum entrance continued to be on the Landhausstraße façade and the garden on the southern side, for all its privileged position vis-à-vis the avenue and the square, had become a neglected and marginal space.

aim of the intervention

In 2002, the City Council undertook a comprehensive reform of the Landhaus, not only affecting its facades but also the functional distribution of its interior spaces. Besides adding a free-standing emergency stairway to the eastern side of the building and thereby giving rise to heated controversy because of its contrasting deconstructivist style, the renovation entailed moving the museum’s main entrance to the southern façade. The garden, which thereby acquired a vestibular status, had to be replanted in order to offer appropriate access to the building. Under the attentive gaze of citizens who love their historic heritage after having to raise it again, stone by stone, from its own ruins, the project had to be carried out with extreme care and the highest degree of respect for the pre-existing elements. Again, the new garden offered the chance to introduce into the centre of Dresden a green, calm and tucked-away corner, an important contribution because, even though Dresden is one of the European municipalities with most tree cover, the old centre was rather lacking in such spaces.

description

The site of the intervention includes, on the one hand, the polygonal profile of the southern façade of the Landhaus and, on the other, the rectilinear and angled edge of Wilsdruffer Straße. The pre-existent shrub-type vegetation was removed to enhance the perception of this façade. The garden is in a hollow sixty centimetres lower than street level and protected from the external hustle and bustle by a wall of prefabricated concrete modules that open out at the base to form a continuous bench. The wall has only two breaks, one to make way for some steps leading towards the entrance of the building and the other to permit the installation of a ramp providing wheelchair access.

The ground plan is organised around a reticule of paths made of sandstone slabs, which reproduce the direction of the façade and the sequence marked by its openings. In some sections, the lines of the slabs are raised from the ground to form parallelepipedic blocks of the same stone that can be used as benches. The interstitial square sections formed where the lines of sandstone slabs meet are treated in different ways. A good part of the project’s surface area is covered with small clumps of thyme that fill the garden with their fragrance while also offering a spongy-looking plant cover. Some of these fragrant mats have made way for Higan cherry trees (Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis') which, with their middling size, confer a human scale on the garden.

In the zones of foreseeably more transit, the square sections are filled with coarse sand, which is also the case of the space in front of the entrance and the area that extends along the base of the façade equipping the museum cafeteria with a sunny terrace. One of the square sections, situated in front of this terrace, has a small pond, the exit point of an irrigation ditch that crosses a good part of the garden until it enters another pool. This one, too, is square in shape but is smaller and set in the middle of the route between the garden steps and the entrance to the museum. Eventually, the garden’s reticular structure can be used to exhibit some of the museum pieces in the open air. At night, the space is lit by a series of beacons that are placed along the length of some of the lines of sandstone slabs. At the base of each cherry tree there is also a spotlight set into the ground to give the cinematic effect of low-angle illumination of the tree-top.

assessment

A large number of people in a public space is often taken as a sign of its success and quality. However, a city also needs quiet corners, tucked-away from the urban traffic, spaces that are not perceptible at first glance, practically unknown and even difficult to locate. Public gardens tend to offer this serenity through an pleaseant hedonism that is established, in different gardening traditions, by means of a more-or-less explicit expression of a harmonious balance between artificial order and natural disorder.

In the case of the Landhaus garden, the spontaneous irregularity that characterises plant elements is fitted into in a geometric order that is explicit in its Cartesian rigour. This enables a dual relationship to be established with the building, one that is apparently contradictory but also highly enriching. One the one hand, the garden’s geometric steadfastness, reinforced by the simplicity of the artificial elements that shape it, heightens the baroque nature of the façade. On the other hand, the reticule traced by the lines of sandstone slabs strictly obeys its compositional order, propagating its rhythmic resonance beyond its built-up volume. The result is that the building now rises with dignity before the open spaces that once cold-shouldered it.


David Bravo Bordas, architect.

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The wall has only two breaks, one to make way for some steps leading towards the entrance of the building and the other to permit the installation of a ramp providing wheelchair access. © Petra Steiner. 01-01-1970

technical sheet

CITY: Dresden (507,572 inhabitants)

COUNTRY: Germany

BEGINNING OF THE PROJECT: 2002

BEGINNING OF WORK: 2006

END OF WORK: 2007

AREA: 2,000 m2

COST: 430,000 €

credits

AUTHORS:

Jens Rossa