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In the garden with: Maik Böhmer (Planorama-Landschaftsarchitektur)

Maik Böhmer – Photo:

In 2017, the German Landscape Architecture Prize was awarded for the 13th time. First place went to the Rheinboulevard Köln-Deutz, the draft for which was developed by Maik Böhmer’s office Planorama-Landschaftsarchitektur. The jury explained its decision as follows: “This presentation of the river basin in connection with a high quality of stay quickly turned the Rheinboulevard into a crowd-puller.” The project also impressed the jury at the polis award 2017 for urban development and was distinguished in the category “More liveable open spaces”. The prize is conferred in cooperation with the Bundesstiftung Baukultur (German Foundation Building Culture) and the Deutsche Städtetag (German Association of Cities and Towns).


Mr. Böhmer, congratulations once again on your awards. How does one succeed in creating new public space that is liveable, has a high quality of stay and is well-accepted by the people? Is something like this 100 percent plannable or is a bit of luck involved too?

Böhmer: I find it important to remain authentic and track down what makes a place special. To translate this into a reserved design that connects with the place and at the same time displays intriguing new aspects leads for me to an open space that the people can subjectively understand and which addresses their sensory perception. However, luck is also need in the implementation so that all of the players work together to ensure that such a high-quality result ultimately ensues. A lot of things have to fit together which is not always equally the case for all building projects.

Rheinboulevard – Photo: Hanns Joosten


There are currently many cities in Germany where the number of inhabitants is declining and which are shrinking, whereas the urban centres are attracting more and more people and hence we are seeing a renaissance of the compact city and which in turn leads to the related density of living spaces. How do you face these different challenges in your work?

Böhmer: Our main working environment is the city, where we try to combat the increasing pressure on open spaces with good drafts and endeavour to enable the people relaxation and free space in dense urban structures. However, design cannot solve all of the challenges alone of course. Measures in the pre-design stage are important. The securing of connected open spaces and their good distribution throughout the urban area is an important pre-requisite. Otherwise it can quickly lead to over usage, which cannot be compensated for through design. A certain density on the other hand can also contribute towards the quality of open space. It is important to pay attention to the scale and remain authentic towards the respective place.


Professionally you mainly occupy yourself with public green areas and open spaces such as parks, garden shows and squares. How have you designed your own private open space – i.e. your garden – and what do you use it for mainly?

Böhmer: My private garden is my place of retreat – a place where I can tank energy, experiment and observe. Gardening is a wonderfully satisfying physical activity that is a nice balance to intellectual work. In comparison to public building projects one also achieves results faster and can account for it completely oneself. My private design ideas are based more on the opinion that nature is something perfect and doesn’t need very much adding to it. It is about presenting the things that are already there in an attractive way.


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