Monday, July 2, 2007

An old American army base reclaimed

The Maurice Rose Airfield, an American airforce base located near Frankfurt was always a topic of conversation among locals because of the noise. When the base was closed in 1992, the community immediatly took it over as a place for walks, hikes and biking to the consternation of the authorities who were eager to seal off the place because of the contaminants in the ground. A happy compromise was reached when the authorities and the community were able to work with a GTL Landscape Architects from Kassel, Germany to create a master plan for the base that cordoned off spaces that were considered contaminated, remediated some areas, and created a reclamation landscape in other parts of the site that has become an area for returning diversity of flora and fauna.

The design was able to successfully intervene in strategic, yet simple ways to retain the feel of the old use, and yet create new spaces for community recreation. The old control tower is now a cafe and environmental education center. On weekends, families gather here to get started on their weekend adventures. Parts of the main runway have become a great roller blading area. Further out, sections of the runway have been torn up for nature to reclaim. What remains are the old markings along which narrow paths, remnants of the runway have been kept.

A new pedestrian bridge links sections of the new park together creating a big loop for bikes and hikes.

The bridge is elegant in its design, also creating a stopping point for looking at the river below and watching the canoers and fishermen. The asphalt expanses remain on site in some locations, but have been broken up to create drainage. Then nature takes it course ... Left over rubble is contained in gabions to create seating.

The park is used in many different ways, and its clear that the community has adopted the site as its outdoor room. Horse riders go by ......

A family outing includes a stop at the newly created pond among the rubble.

Canoers launch their boats from the bridge .... Bikers zip by ........
Signs made by children let people know not to disturb the tall grasses during the nesting season.
What I am most struck by is the re-naturalization process that is occuring on areas of the old runway and concrete pads that were broken up and left to be. There are three types of areas - large slabs, medium sized pieces, and the third size is rubble the size of soccer balls. Each area shows a variety of species, both flora and fauna returning. There is a debate among the landscape architects whether nature should continue to take its course, or should there be any intervention if the non-native species taking hold are invasive. Meanwhile, visitors climb over slabs of concrete. I peek inbetween and find a number of frogs leaping around. I hear that some of the species of frogs are now on the return. There is a monitoring process underway to see how these spaces evolve and what nature brings back. As a reminder that all this is very close to a metropolitan area, the skyline of Frankfurt hugs the edges of the park.

1 comment:

Diana said...

Hello. Interesting article on Maurice Rose Airfield. I used to work there and it brings back old memories. You mentioned contaminated buildings, do you have any information on the contaminated buildings? Or where I could find information?