Landscape Arch. Prof. Rainer Schmidt
Owner and Line Manager, Rainer Schmidt Landscape Architects and Urban Planners GmbH, Germany
„GREEN OASIS WADI AL DAWASIR”
The project “Green Oasis, New Town and Tradition of Land Use – Wadi Al Dawasir, Saudiarabien/ Saudi-Arabia” has been published in the book “City by Landscape”, 2013. The title of the presentation (see above) frames this project relative to the overall interest of Rainer Schmidt in research by design focusing on the philosophy “nature by culture”.
The Green Oasis of Wadi Al Dawasir is being developed in the middle of the desert as a new urban center for the Wadi Al Dawasir region. The existence of three wadis with their water resources is the main asset of this location, qualifying this site in the desert plain for agricultural use. Cultivation is traditionally pursued in circular fields irrigated by sprinkling systems. To uphold this exceptional context, a compact urban shape was developed recalling these fields. They consist of merging star-shaped decagons, a geometric shape that has been common in the Arab world for centuries. Consequently, these shapes will be a familiar reminder of old traditions in the new town.
Designed for 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants, the town was to be self-sustaining in terms of energy. The new town will be embedded within a unique, artificially shaped ‘landscape’ lighting a beacon of continuation and reinterpretation of traditions of land use, irrigation and cultivation in that region and country.
The predetermined urban plan, demarcated by an inhabitable city wall, allows for further gradual development within these boundaries. For the time being, idle areas will be landscaped, with the option of being developed later on.
The inhabitable border wall quotes traditional city walls and draws a clear line between the spaces and functions of both the oasis and the desert landscape.
Each of the decagons is themed with a certain dimension of development. The central star accommodates the ‘medina’ with a mixture of living, service and shopping facilities, with squares and semi-public patios resembling the ‘boxed’ structure and density characteristic of the historic districts of Arab towns. The medina is surrounded by an intensively designed oasis garden. Another feature of the Green Oasis is the campus of a university focusing on research and teaching in the field of a dominant local subject of innovative agriculture and renewable energies. Agricultural test fields are attached to the campus. One decagon is completely covered by a photovoltaic power plant supplying the town and its environs and suiting research purposes. Sports and leisure grounds, a medical center and a tourist area with resorts and wellness facilities are housed in some of the other ‘stars’. The overall structure creates synergies as a fusion of local starting points and international flair.
Solar energy, gray water recycling, water recovery and optimized ways of construction make the oasis town energy-self-sufficient place and a milestone of sustainable town planning. The design’s character and self-image are formed by a combination of a strong, traditional formal language and traditional urban strategies – such as density, compactness, and security –, pioneering yet vernacular modes of land use and energy production – such as photovoltaics, agricultural land use, and energy and water management.
This landscape design forms the philosophic, topographic and methodical base for a synthesis of energy production, environmental forethought, and socio-spatial aesthetics of the design.
With twenty-five years of professional work experience as a landscape designer, Rainer Schmidt has one of the largest and most well-known offices in Germany. The office has about 30 staff members including senior landscape architects, landscape architects, graphic designers, and administrators. There are three locations of the office in Germany: The main office is situated in Munich and there are also offices in Berlin and in Bernburg. Rainer Schmidt is a professor at the Beuth University of Applied Sciences in Berlin since 1991.
The working fields of the office are concepts and implementation of projects of different scales in the fields of landscape architecture, environmental planning, urban design and supervision on both national and international level. The office’s aim is to find ways of dealing with problems of our time aiming to offer a realistic reflection of the way people interact with each other and with nature in open spaces design working on a balance between the material side and the perceptive side of design, function, emotion and conservation.
Rainer Schmidt has studied Landscape Architecture at the University in Weihenstephan/ Freising, Germany, after having been trained practically in gardening and building landscape. He was line manager in the office of Gottfried Hansjakob, Landscape Architects, Munich, with many successes in competitions, planning and implementing national and international projects from 1979-1991, having been registered as the landscape architect at the Bavarian Chambers of Architects in 1986. He received his call for the professorship in landscape architecture and landscape design at the Technical University, Beuth-Hochschule, Berlin, Germany in 1991 and founded in this year the offices for landscape architecture and urban planning in Munich and in Berlin, followed by opening an office in Bernburg in 1997. He was a guest professor at the University of Beijing, China, in 2004, and guest professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in 2007. Since 2008, he has been registered as the urban planner in the Bavarian Chambers of Architects and he has been a member of the leading board of the German association for garden art and landscape culture (DGGL) since 2005 to date. He has published many articles and has initiated the publication “City by landscape” having forth come in 2013. Teaching and practicing “nature by culture” is his main focus.
AWARDS OF THE OFFICE:
2016 AAP American Prize, Silver Award, Landscape Architecture, Public for Park Killesberg – ‘Green Joint’
2015 WAN Landscape Award, 1.Prize, for Park Killesberg, Stuttgart
2014 European Garden Award, 1.Prize, Category for Park Killesberg, Stuttgart
2014 RTF Award, 1. Prize, Category „Landscape Design Built“, for Park Killesberg, Stuttgart
2009 BDLA (German Association of Landscape Architects) Prize 2009, 1. Prize,
Category “Residential gardens”, for the garden of the Villa Heldmann, St. Gilgen, Austria
2008 Premio internazionale Torsanlorenzo, 1. Prize, Category C, for the garden of the Villa Heldmann, St. Gilgen, Austria
2008 Premio internazionale Torsanlorenzo, 1. Prize, Category A, for the expansion of the college Paulinum, Schwaz, Austria
2006 Premio internazionale Torsanlorenzo, 1. Prize, Category A, for the Bavarian National Museum.