Baumkirchen Mitte

Munich, Germany
aerial view
Photo © Marcus Hassler
footbridge in the evening
Photo © Sonja Weber
Photo © Sonja Weber
Photo © Stephan Ondracek
Landscape Architects
mahl gebhard konzepte
Munich, Germany
1M - 100M

Biodiversity incubator

Since 2013 in Berg am Laim, Munich, the "Baumkirchen Mitte" city district has been developed on a 15-hectare site of a former rail depot. For almost 70 years, locomotives and freight cars were shunted and repaired here. Now the area offers space for about 1,300 residents, jobs, retail, public green spaces and two daycare centers. The open spaces with its integrated play areas are intended to invite residents as well as visitors to linger and unwind. A roofscape, some of which can be used by the community, provides a balance to the dense development.

The existing buildings a "hot spot" of biodiversity

Almost half -7 ha- of the entire area has been designated as an ecological reserve.
Plant growth on active railway areas is subject to permanent interferences. When railway areas fall out of use, the vegetation reacts relatively quickly. For this reason, the disused railway tracks are now characterized by mosaic-like vegetation; the area maintains its own charm through the open ruderal areas, which alternate with emerging birch trees and older, frame- forming woody plants.
The railway depot has developed into a near-natural railway wasteland as a result of the decommissioning. Soil, poor in humus (e.g. track ballast) hardly store any water and thus promote sparse, lean grasslands. This has created a "hot spot" and an "incubator" for biodiversity, which, in combination with the remaining railway tracks, gives the area a special identity. Several protected animal species have created habitats on site due to the dry and hot site conditions ideal for them; a mixture of patchy, low vegetation, sunny fringes and shrubs are found on site. Numerous insects such as the blue-winged grasshopper and the blue-winged sand cricket, as well as small vertebrates such as the sand lizard can be observed on the reserve - they are strictly protected (§7 (2) 14, BNatSchG).
In addition to this unique nature, this particular place is also characterized by the abandoned railway tracks with the signal box, the turntable and the signaling equipment.

(Maintenance) concept

In order to preserve this near-natural dry site with its high species diversity, a maintenance and development concept has been established. Without further maintenance, succession leads to forest-like stands, which is why the continuous removal of woody growth and the preservation of suitable, sunny sites free are important measures. Deadwood is left in the succession areas to provide shelter for insects and small vertebrates. The raw soil rotation not only offers reptiles such as the sand lizard an ideal location to lay their eggs in the sandy soils.

Minimal intervention - monitoring and adventure trail

A particular challenge was the accessibility of the ecological reserve area: By means of elaborate monitoring and specially developed footbridges, it was possible to comply with nature conservation requirements and still provide barrier-free access for residents as a close-to-nature recreation area. The difference in elevation between residential buildings and the ecological reserve area was compensated through stairs and ramps. The adventure trail in the lower-lying track area is accessible via stairs on the west side and a barrier-free ramp on the east side. The elevated path leads past the historic railway turntable, which was once used to move wagons and locomotives. A grandstand has been built here so that the locomotive turntable can serve as an open-air theatre.
It has been possible to stage the peculiarity of the decay on the former railway site in such a way that one can recognize the unique beauty of the area; the opposition between the vegetation areas and the decaying tracks and turntable offer a very attractive contrast.

In the meantime, the area has developed into a highly attractive place also for the residents, especially for children and young people.

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