Design Autumn 2017

Munich and the Bavarian Alps

Design Autumn 2017: Map of Munich and the Bavarian Alps, «ARGE Oberbayerisches Alpenvorland».

With each design semester the Chair of Professor Vogt is working its way around the Alpine arc with the thesis that it can be read as an urban Common Ground. The task of each design semester is to verify this thesis by focusing on a metropolitan region and enquiring as to its specific relationship with the Alps.

After Milan, Lyon and Ljubljana we shall be working in the coming semester with the urban territory of Munich. Germany’s third largest municipality lies in the foothills of the Alps in a sedimentary basin between the Limestone Alps and the Danube. The river Isar, which originates in the Alps in the Tyrolean part of the Karwendel, links the city on the one hand with the Alps to the South and thereby with northern Italy and on the other hand via the Danube with Vienna and eastern Europe.

Although the Bavarian Alps only account for seven per cent of the country’s area, they are of great symbolic significance. The romantic image of the idealised, idyllic Alps that is based on the two pillars of the ‘beautiful landscape’ and ‘genuine tradition,’ has been heavily promoted in Bavaria since the 19th Century. The reality looks somewhat different for those who live in the Alps. Since the 1980s the city of Munich has been expanding ever further southwards and displacing traditional land uses. Activities such as living, local recreation and sport that have too little space in the urban core or are affected by unfavourable conditions are being displaced into the bordering Alps.

The task of the semester is to redefine the meaning and use of the Alpine landscape at the crossroads between extensification (landscape as a museum) and intensification (e.g. tourism, agriculture or energy production) with the purpose of establishing a productive relationship with the metropolitan region of Munich.

We understand design not as an end product but as a process. Our first step is to investigate Munich’s large-scale relationships. A two-day long field trip complements this analytical gaze with a personal take on the area. Students then develop an individual programme as the foundation for their design. The proposed interventions can vary between urban planning and landscape scenarios and concrete architectural proposals.


Chair of Günther Vogt
Assistants: Sebastiano Brandolini, Thomas Kissling, Ilkay Tanrisever
Design (052-1135-17L – 14 KP) and Integrated discipline planning / landscape architecture (051-1235-17L – 3KP)

The trip to Munich is from 07.10.17 until 08.10.17 (departure on Friday evening).
The contribution towards expenses will be 220 CHF.


The Alps as Common Ground

The expansion of the Alps’ developmental structure leads to their increased integration into the urban networks of the surrounding metropolises. This enables both the exploitation of the Alps as a metropolitan park landscape and as an attractive settlement area, which leads to an increased formation of spatial contrasts already evident today: the intensified use of the easy to reach Alpine areas increasingly contradicts the more extensive use up to the abandonment of the remaining Alpine areas. If this trend continues, it will lead in extreme cases to the loss of the Alps as an autonomous cultural, living and economic area; furthermore, the Alpine peripheral regions will become merely additional areas of the extra-Alpine metropolises.

When considering the Alps as common ground of the surrounding metropolitan areas, an alternative interpretation results and a new potential opens up regarding the Alps’ future development. Assuming that settlements and an accompanying urban concentration will increase along the edge of the Alps, they would no longer only be partially assigned metropolitan park landscapes, but central to the region. Regarding the Alps as common ground and a resource claimed by various users, their future could lie in a collectively renegotiated, sustainable user relationship. This relationship combines and overlaps traditional, agricultural (endogenous) usages with extra-Alpine, urban (exogenous as well as ubiquitous) ones, thus ultimately allowing a responsible use of resources of the Alpine landscape. (Werner Bätzing, «Die Alpen. Geschichte und Zukunft einer europäischen Kulturlandschaft», Munich: Publisher C.H. Beck, 2005, P. 335.) This could result in a common central landscape of the surrounding metropolitan areas – not based on traditional images and ideas, but creating new images and meanings – and above all developing strategies on how to deal with areas with little potential.

The alpine range 2015: urbanisation (white), protected areas (red), common ground (yellow).
The alpine range 2100: urbanisation (white), protected areas (red), common ground (yellow).