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The creation of a green belt as an impulse for urban regeneration in Schweinfurt (Germany)

Name Green belt Schweinfurt
Place Schweinfurt
Country Germany
Topic Urban regeneration
Author(s) Markus Peter
Completion 2009 (1. Section - "Upper Gate" to river Main)
Client City of Schweinfurt
Project costs 9,0 Mio € (1. Section of the green belt)
Historical Map 1833.jpg
<googlemap version="0.9" lat="50.049864" lon="10.23325" type="satellite" zoom="14" width="300" height="250">


Rationale: Why is this case study interesting?

  • The case study shows the ability of the revitalisation of a city as a co-operation of Urban renewaland the creation of a green belt
  • Old Cities are very typical for European towns. Nowadays they lack in a population movement from within towns and cities to the rural-urban fringe. This project shows how old cities can be strengthened
  • The project is also an example of a collaboration between architecture and landscape-architecture at the aim to improve living conditions in cities
  • The green belt is furthermore a model for the reconstruction of historical elements in relation to its built environment. It shows how history can be integrated in urban design and urban regeneration.

Author's perspective

  • The author is working as a landscape architect for the green space department at the municipality of Schweinfurt.

Landscape and/or urban context

Schweinfurt [1]is located in the northwestern part of Bavaria, Germany and lies into the so called “Basin of Schweinfurt”, with a comparatively hot and dry climate (viticulture). This is increased due to the special urban climate which leads to a raising of the normal temperature up to 3-4 degree centigrade. The main waterway is the river Main.

Urban ecology[2]

The following section provides information obtained from: Stadt Schweinfurt, Sanierungsstelle: Die Grünverbindung vom Obertor zum Main, Erläuterungsbericht mit Plänen und Fotos der Stadt Schweinfurt vom April 2002

The level of human changes in relation to faunistic and floristic influence raises from the urban fringe to the city centre. Nearby the city, near-natural areas were already protected. The nature reserve area "Saumain" lies across from the river Main. Whereas near-natural areas in the city exist only as relict in parks. During the designing of the green belt different habitats for plants and animals were created.

Cultural/social/political context

  • Brief explanation of culture, political economy, legal framework

Schweinfurt is a town with about 55.000 inhabitants, located at the river Main and is a city of the industry and art. It has a historical old part of town. Schweinfurt has a very huge impact on metal industry, especially ball bearings industry. The colour Schweinfurt Green which was very popular in the 19th century was also produced there. Unfortunately this pigment contains very huge concentrations of heavy metal, especially arsenic. Various depots of this substance can be found throughout the city and its parks.


The following section provides information obtained from: Stadt Schweinfurt, Sanierungsstelle, Presentation "Green belt" by the municipality of Schweinfurt, Department of Urban Sanitation 05.07.2005

Schweinfurt was a formerly free Imperial City. It was surrounded by a city-wall with entrenchments, towers and graves. The building of the now reconstructed facilities started in the 13th century. The first extension of the city appeared after the second city spoiling in the Second Margrave War(German: "Markgräfler-Krieg") in 1554, in which many of the Fortress`components were destroyed. In the 16. Century the defensive wall in the east was built. In the 30years war (1618-1648) the town was developed by the Swedish (General Wrangel). Until the 19th century the town scape was dominated by the walls and gates of the fortress. The city was particularly military because of Kiliansberg, a fortress on the eastern side. 1802 Schweinfurt became Bavarian, the craft and commerce were growing, so the Fortress lost its function and hindered further development. After the napoleon years the city was suffering from a burden of debt. So in the beginning of 19. Century the ramparts were sold, the ditches were filled up and the erosion of towers and gates began. Additionally the gates prevented the development of the street and train-traffic. In 1970 the city repurchased the pieces of land, while the urban renewal began.

Urban redevelopment[4]

The following two sections provides information obtained from: Edgar Lösch: "Die Schweinfurter Altstadt", Herausgegeben von der Stadt Schweinfurt, ISBN 3-926879-36-X

On the 29. September 1971 the city council of Schweinfurt decided the start of the preparing investigations for the areas:

  • Old-City
  • Northern City
  • Old-Oberndorf (in the westen part)
  • Gründerzeit-quarter (German: Gründerzeitviertel, named after the years of rapid industrial development in the 19th century)

The conclusion of the investigations was distinct:

             In order to be attractive for the region, Schweinfurt has to renew its old city.

In the land-use-plan the city council determined, to purchase all areas before the old city wall and to create them as green spaces. The creation of the green belt therefore can be regarded as a consequence of both the urban redevelopment and the land-use-plan.

The old town showed an adverse image of the age structure. At the period of 1950 until 1970 the number of people living in the old town decreased from 7934 about a percentage of 37 to 4963. A huge part of people living in the old town were dissatisfied with the living conditions. The main reasons that were discovered are: neglected conditions of the building stock, adverse equipment of the apartments, too little green spaces and entrances to green areas.

Spatial analysis of area/project/plan

There are basically two main features: The fortification and the city.

The whole area is chronological and spatially divided into three sections:

Section I from Upper Gate to the River Main from 1997-2009

Section II from Fichtel`s Garden to Rückert-Street 2008-2020

Section III from Old Cemetery to Gutermann-Promenade 2020-?

Section I from Upper Gate to the river Main from 1997-2009 [2]

This section consists of eight areas:

  • Green Space at the Upper Gate

The Green Space "Upper Gate" joins the northern peak of the "Philosopher's Walk". In the middle of the territory the art noveau building of the former restaurant "Green Tree" (German: "Grüner Baum") is located. East of this building two former allotment gardens were purchased by the municipality. The main aim here is also the interconnectedness of the wall structures. The allotment gardens were dissolved and cleared. The green space east of the restaurant is minted by lawn which is framed by town walls. Beneath this building a historic, 100 year old gardening house was rebuilt. The design was made by Sommerlad Haase Kuhli Landscape Architects from Giessen/ Germany

  • Motherwell-Park

The Motherwell-Park is named after the partner-town of Schweinfurt, Motherwell in Scotland. It was designed primarily with accessibility in mind. The material and design adapts to the other areas of the green belt. It can be regarded as a landscape-park with meadows and single trees. The pedestrian ways consist of coloured asphalt.

  • Philosopher`s Walk (German: "Philosophengang")

This section was implemented as a preferred measure in 1987/88. It was designed by Sommerlad Haase Kuhli, Landscape Architects from Giessen. It's center contains a pond with a fountain. A main task was the restoration of the fortress-wall. Before the start of the creation of this section, the area was mainly used by allotment gardens and fallow industry areas. At the Philosopher's Walk a forum was constructed, which is annually used for theatrical performances. A quite and large green space was created whith landscape architectural interventions. A new built bridge above the forum is connecting the "Philosopher's Walk" together with the "Motherwell-Park".

  • Green space "At The Upper Wall

The Green space "At The Upper Wall" is linking south at the "Philosopher's Walk" and ends at the Parking garage "Marienbach". The design was made by Sommerlad Haase Kuhli from Giessen

Former existence

Before it was reshaped, this area consisted in historic elevated gas tanks, abandoned allotment gardens and asphalted railroads. An already existing green space was designed in the 70-years style with sidewalk-flag of exposed-aggregate concrete and plants which were modern at that time: conifers and foreign shrubs.

Construcional measures

The existing railroad was replaced by a linden tree alley, which is connected to a sidewalk. This pedestrian way is made of coloured asphalt and lined with granite cobbles. In order to improve the cycleways and pedestrian connection, a ramp and staircase was constructed, which connects the green space with the historic city. To the offerings of play yards in the park a playground for toddlers was added.


The greening is dominated by meadows and ground-covered plants like cranesbill together with existing and planted deciduous trees. For these mainly linden trees (Tilia cordata 'Greenspire') and norway maples (Acer platanoides) were used.

  • The White Tower (German: "Weisser Turm")

The green space "White Tower" can be regarded as a supplement to the building measure "Upper Gate" and was finished in 2002. The main planning aim at the "White Tower" was to reconstruct the former town wall, which was very protective in this area. When formerly existing gardening houses were demolished, the stumps of the "Meadow Guardian Tower" and the "White Tower" emerged. These towers were broken off in 1805. They were refurbished and made tanglible again with an observation deck.

  • Mill-Gate ("Mühltor")

The main design element is a tree-axis of chopped plane trees. The opening of the axis stands for the former Mill-Gate which was demolished in 1876. The green space "Mill Gate" was made by Sommerlad Haase Kuhli from Giessen

  • Wallgrave and Walltower ("Wallgraben und Walltürme")

The park Wallgrave formerly consisted in garages, which were shifted. Before the creation of the green, the municipality had to purchase the area of a former brick-cottage and the buildings of a construction business. The designing was also made by Sommerlad Haase Kuhli from Giessen. Two staircases connect pedestrian ways above and below the town wall. One main design element is the tree axis of chopped plant trees, which continues the avenue of the "Mill Gate". The new constructed bastion releases the view to the wall grave. Underneath a bridge, a skate park was constructed.

  • At the lower Marienbach ("Am unteren Marienbach")

As last section the green belt shall be connected to the river Main. Due to the building of a railway line and a street, the town was cut from the river Main. One main aim of this measurement will be the reconstruction of an attractive pedestrian way to the city and to reshape the riverside.

Critical decisions appeared when woodland, which developed through ecological succession was cleared in order to make the renovated wall visible.

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Core Questions Working Group Green Structure Planning

How does funding influence the planning and use of public space?

After the fortification was not required any more and the development of the city reached out of the walls, the land was eighter conveyed or used commercially. In order to create the green belt this land had to be purchased by the public sector. Because the green belt is supported by the public authorities, the utilization and design was made with maintenance in mind. Therefore high qualitative and durable materials are used, custom-made equipment was avoided as possible.

How are spaces within the site used both currently and projected?

At the moment the city within the wall is built up in rectangular blocks. Buildings exist mainly with three floors, while the subterranean levels are used commercially along the main streets. Open spaces along the fortification varies from existing designed public space, conveyed green to commercially usage like garages or department stores. The main intention is to create a public space with a variety of using. For this reason, inconvenient buildings are pulled down if possible, while others have to be integrated. Along the green belt playgrounds for different age groups and a skate park were constructed. At certain places and in some towers restaurants are situated. In the city houses are purchased by the municipality, renewed and sold to interested private persons.

How can the historic elements / layers be integrated?

As it is one of the main goals to shape out the historic appearance, a huge afford is made to reconstruct and rebuilt these elements. Because they were conveyed a long time, the walls have to be stabilized and restored. The walls with the Velvet Tower ("Samtturm") and the Powder Towers, the fragments of the white tower and the wallgraves speak volumes now for the towns history.

The towers, which should be open for public use, were equipped with spiral staircases and adapted to safety regulations. Other towers and historic buildings were created for semi-public use like viewpoint-platforms. One of the greater towers, called the powder-tower, contains a restaurant with outside-seats now. Public ways are also created along the top of the walls. In this manner the city could be connected with the urban sprawl, while simultaneously the fortification remains its appearance.

All features of the fortification like the "White Tower" or the "Hunters Tower" are equipped with signs which contain graphical and textual information about the history of each particular element.

In the summer 2007 a festival with an ancient character was held for the public with jugglers, knights, firespitters and typical elements of the society in the Middle Age.

As the green belt lies beneath the city, it can be regarded as a recreation area for the city now.

How do the contributing elements of water relate to the project?

Water appears mainly in two different backgrounds. One one hand as a part of the fortification and as typical feature. On the southern face of the fort, the river main was integrated and built the defensive structure there. As the river became a part of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal this part of the river was converted into a waterway. Nowadays it is planned to build an accessible entrance to the river in the way of a promenade. Additionally water appears as a feature, for example as a pond at the section of the `Philosopher`s Walk´.

How does the built environment relate to the landscape around it?

At the already realized part of the green belt the environment has a very reduced design, in order to refer to the towers and walls which are the main feature. The buildings behind the fortification are renewed with the improvement of living quality and the historical appearance in mind. As the adjoining areas are mainly constructed settlements, the green belt has to adapt to the technical conditions of traffic features like canals, bridges and railways. Whereas the design itself tries to remain unique and outstanding.

Analysis of program/function

The main functional characteristics of the green belt and also their aims are mainly developed out of the analysis of the urban redevelopment program:

Sanitation of the ramparts

Creating a new town entrance at the Mill Gate (German:„Mühltor“)

Linking the old town quarters through stairs, ramps and footbridges

Playgrounds for all age groups

Areas of sitting and experience

Designed for extensive maintenance of Parks (trees and meadows)

Areas of retreating for small animals and birds

They have they been expressed or incorporated through: Removal of industrial waste land and business areas at the ramparts

Demolition of inconvenient buildings

Shifting the parking garage Marienbach to the quarter „Krumme Gasse/ Am Oberen Wall“

Purchasing of land by the municipaltiy

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Analysis of design/planning process


The sections have a very reduced design. Design Elements are mainly meadows with trees, ways made of coloured asphalt, formed hedges. Mainly the green space is used for recreation. A part of the visitor use the area as a linking to the city. Nowadays the green belt is indeed used by different age groupt. The users vary from small childs with their elders at the playgrounds to teenagers at the skate park to elderly people.

Implementing together with urban redevelopment[5]

The following section provides information obtained from: Baugesetzbuch (abbr. BauGB, "German statutory code on building and construction'")

As the development of the green belt is connected to the urban redevelopment, the implementation undergoes the same procedure. The legal foundation of the urban redevelopment in Germany is set in the chapter two of the "German statutory code on building and constructing" chapter two: "Special Urban Planning Legislation". Thus the sequence of measures are mainly:

  • Participation by affected parties and public agencies (§§137-139)

The urban redevelopment shall be discussed with all relevant parties as far as possible.

  • Preparation and preparatory investigations (§§140-141)

In this segment the preparatory investigations and the designation of the redevelopment area are done. Also the aims are setted and urban planning according to the area are done.

  • The redevelopment statue (§142)

The municipality formally designates an area in which the redevelopment shall take place. From now on certain measures in this area have to be permitted by the municipality, for example the disposal and the mortgaging of land.

  • Preparation of an overview about costs and financing

The financing of urban redevelopment measures in Schweinfurt is depending on public funds. Therefore the planning and proceeding of the area have to be geared with the responsible departments. The project is especially supported by the town planning promotion (German: Städtebauförderung), a special program of the Federation and the States of Germany to support the development of cities but also villages. Additionally the European Union is promoting this project.

Important consultations/collaborations

The landscape architecture is mainly done by Sommerlad, Haase, Kuhli from Giessen. The project is promoted by the European Union. Additionally the department of monumental protection was consulted. As the organization of subsidies by the European Community is done by the Government of Lower Franconia, the permission of measures has to be obtained there.

Analysis of use/users

The analysis of use was examined in the core questions. Please see Core Questions Working Group Green Structure Planning for further infomation.

Future development directions

Section II from Fichtel`s Garden to Rückert-Street 2008-2020

In this territory, a sanitation area was implemented in 2007 in order to prepare further planning stages. The plans and measures for this section are initialized at the moment.

Section III from Old Cemetery to Gutermann-Promenade

It is planned to redesign this area from about 2020 on. Because of building activities there, some measures have to be antedated. At the moment the renovation of the town wall near the Old Cemetery is implemented. Thereby a room underneath a tower came to light, which was never expected there.

  • Future goals

The main goal is to close the green belt and to connect itself to the city

For the future the constructing of a multiplex cinema at the Upper Wall is planned. In order to integrate this cinema currently the department of urban sanitation is operating at necessary adaptation works.

Peer reviews or critique

The project has not yet been reviewed by academic or professional reviewers

Points of success and limitations

The green belt underwent it's latest success by the opening of the Section "Walltowers and Wallgraves", which had a huge response in the public opinion. One of the greatest and outstanding achievement of the green belt was reached in combination with the renewal of the old city. This alliance has increased the success of both measures. Therefore the green belt and the sanitation of the old city can be regarded as a very efficient side-by-side co-operation of architecure and landscape-architecture. The limitations which the green belt is facing arise mainly out of structural conditions. The greatest challenge is to deal with the existing transport routes, which cut through the green belt and have to be hurdled.

What can be generalized from this case study?

The approach of governmental urban redevelopment can be successful when it is possible to meet and to concentrate on peoples needs. The analyzing of the area mainly concentrated on living conditions. As the aims were consequently haunted in designing and construction, the huge success in the population of Schweinfurt can be traced back to this origins.

The inauguration of the Section "Wallgrave and Walltowers" was the greatest festival in Schweinfurt's public space in 2007.

Which research questions does it generate?

Currently no specific research questions can be generated out of the project itself. That's because of the mainly governmental funding. Plans and measures have to be time-tested, in order to ensure the economic and sparing use of public means. However independent from the project, it would be interesting to examine issues concerning the relation between architecture and landscape architecture and also how to deal with existing structures: How can the co-operation between architects and landscape-architects intensified? Are there any restrictions? How can new components be added to existing historical buildings or components? How can green spaces get over existing traffic elements in order to create connectivity?

Image Gallery



[2] Stadt Schweinfurt, Sanierungsstelle: Die Grünverbindung vom Obertor zum Main, Erläuterungsbericht mit Plänen und Fotos der Stadt Schweinfurt vom April 2002

[3] Presentation "Green belt" by the municipality of Schweinfurt, Department of Urban Sanitation 05.07.2005

[4] Edgar Lösch: Die Schweinfurter Altstadt, Herausgegeben von der Stadt Schweinfurt, ISBN 3-926879-36-X

[5] Baugesetzbuch (abbr. BauGB, "German statutory code on building and construction'")

All pictures on this page labelled with "Sanierungsstelle" with kind permission by the municipality of Schweinfurt, Department of Urban Sanitation, (Stadt Schweinfurt, Sanierungsstelle)

All pictures on this page labelled with "Sommerlad Haase Kuhli" with kind permission by Sommerlad Haase Kuhli Landschaftsarchitekten Giessen/Deutschland

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