The RIBA President's Medals Student Awards

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"Aquatic Sportspark Neckar" deals with the conflict of cultivated landscape and nature in the city.

For years the city of Stuttgart has been discussing whether to reactivate the riverside of the Neckar as recreational area or to extend the nearby sports facilities, which would mean further urbanisation.
Where a centre for water sports is urgently needed to hold big sport events, planning also seeks to revitalize the banks and to tunnel the highway B10 to give the river a more natural image.

The project solves this conflict by interpreting the canalised river as artificial landscape, proposing a corresponding piece of archi-nature.
Taking into account further human modifications such as the tunnel as well as the fact that a natural eco-system will never develop due to the nearby sluice (which does not allow changes in water level of more than ±10cm), the project does not create a piece of pseudo-nature, but realistically shows its artificial character.

First element is a second basin, which as a piece of land art interprets the river's artificiality and at the same time serves as a filter for the swimming pools. In depth it goes back to the river's original bed before the canalisation.

The river and its twin basin are considered as negative cuts, the park becoming the actual positive. A second category of trapezoidal negatives cross-weaves with the two big basins, reminding of Michael Heizers "Double Negative". They contain the swimming pools (warm-up, competition, diving, non-swimmers, rowing, ice-hockey...) with their water levels bound to the river/the basin. A landscape of valleys and hills is created with the slopes being the stands.

Christian Junge


"Aquatic Landscape Neckar" has been honored one of the best diploma projects in 2002.

Beyond its spatial idea which is in itself already unique- a centre for water sports as an artificial landscape on a riverside- it reveals an astonishing intelligence through its multiple reading:
- urbanistically as the extension of an urban park
- ecologically as an "artificial revitalization" (in German: re-naturierung), formally achieved by landscaping and functionally by providing a filter for the river
- symbolically, as this filter is placed inmidst an area of industrial waste residues

With each of these aspects the students picks up topics of current planning discussion but analyzes and transforms them in a highly individual way. Where the competition of economical, infrastructural and environmental issues is usually seen as obstacle, he works with just these conditions and integrates them into a whole of high complexity, nonetheless offering spatial qualities of a very original and innovative character.

Altogether this remarkable project represents a good example of how an architect in our contemporary world has to define his role between classic formmaking and social art, between the progressive will to change the world and thoughtful interpretation of the existent.


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