Nature by culture – a research by design philosophy by Rainer Schmidt
Founder of one of the largest and most influential landscape design companies in Germany, professor Rainer Schmidt will be lecturing at the SHARE Sofia 2017 about his research by design philosophy.
Besides practicing landscape architecture and leading teams of landscape architects, graphic designers and administrators across three locations in Germany, Munich, Berlin and Bernburg, Rainer Schmidt is also teaching at Beuth University of Applied Sciences, in Berlin. Urban planner of the Bavarian Chamber of Architects and board member of the German association for garden art and landscape culture, he has built an impressive career awarded with numerous international prizes such as the 2016 AAP American Prize, Silver Award for Park Killsberg, the 2015 WAN Landscape Award for the Park Killesberg in Stuttgart, the European Garden Award for the same project and many others.
The landscape architect’s approach advocates for the necessity for developing each project from a thorough reading of the site: “my message is nature by culture- each project needs a strong concept, not to be confused with decoration, discovering the spirit of the place and telling the story of the place in a new way, enfolding it innovatively for the future”. Schmidt believes that, this way, the interventions undertaken by his company overcome the functionality of the arising ideas of the more or less holistic approach of landscape urbanism (Charles Waldheim). The design process thus becomes a realistic reflection over the way people interact with each other and with the natural environment, aiming to offer solutions for current issue, solutions located equidistantly between the material and the perceptive side of design, function, emotion and conservation. These concepts are collectively described through the “city by landscape” syntagm, an update to landscape urbanism theorised and exemplified within the publication with the same title also initiated by Professor Schmidt.
One of the projects incorporating the concepts theorised by Rainer Schmidt is the Green Oasis, a new urban centre for Wadi Al Dawasir region, located in the middle of the desert. Designed as converging star shaped decagons, a very common geometric shape for the Arab community, the urban plan becomes a carrier of the old, the traditional into the new city, the present. Planned for 20 000 to 30 000 inhabitants, this predetermined distribution of space allows for further growth within the inhabitable boundaries reminiscent of traditional city walls. Each decagon is assigned with certain functionality. While the central star accommodates the medina with a mixture of living, services and shopping facilities with squares and semi-public patios surrounded by luxuriant gardens, another decagon is completely covered by a photovoltaic power plant supplying the town and its environs and suiting research purposes in the field of innovative agriculture and renewable energies. Sports and leisure centres, a medical centre and a touristic area with resorts and wellness facilities are housed in some of the other stars.
Solar energy, grey water recycling, water recovery and optimised ways of construction make the oasis town an energy-self-sufficient place and a milestone towards sustainable city planning. The design born out of a synthesis between traditional language and pioneering yet vernacular ways of land use and energy production such as photovoltaics, energy and water management, incorporated the philosophical, topographical and methodical elements that form the basis for environmental and socio-spatial forethought.