Die Leutschenbachinsel (Leutschenbach Island)
A green bridge, creating a new public space
Leutschenbach Island, located in the centre of the Leutschenbach residential development, is a green bridge that spans the Leutschenbach. The public space it creates highlights the green corridor along the creek. Two recessed spaces in the island, an oval opening and a seating niche, offer the sensory experience of flowing water to people crossing over it.
The concept of Leutschenbach Island grew from the realization that the site in the centre of the Leutschenbach neighbourhood is part of one of the crossroads in Zurich’s network of rivers and green corridors and could be used to demonstrate the biodiversity in the city. The waters that flow in the Leutschenbach originate in the Zürichberg and Käferberg hills. The Leutschenbach and its banks form a green corridor, which is part of the city’s popular walking trail (Wanderweg). Lastly, the Leutschenbach’s green corridor merges with the Inner Garden corridor to form a continuous green landscape that supports the biodiversity of plants and animals in the city of Zurich.
This project was developed in response to an invitation to participate in the Kunst am Bau competition, which focussed on the possibilities for art within the Leutschenbach housing estate.
OOZE (Eva Pfannes, Sylvain Hartenberg) & Marjetica Potrč
Kunst am Bau Competition
Canton of Zurich
Leutschenbach Island is a ‘stepping stone’, an organically shaped reinforced concrete shell that bridges the Leutschenbach to join together two separate courtyards. The structure’s foundations are located on both sides of the creek within the territory allocated to the Leutschenbach public art project. The structure is raised above the creek’s highest flood level of the past 100 years. The shell, which is made from recycled concrete aggregates, is covered by a native wildflower meadow. People crossing the bridge engage with two recessed spaces. The large oval opening in the middle offers a view of the creek below, while the south-facing seating niche is a place for people to take a break and relax next to flowing water.
Leutschenbach Island As a Meeting Point for People and Nature
Leutschenbach Island marks a crossroads: it is a biotope, where people, water, plants and animals meet and interact. Here, local residents and visitors from the greater Zurich area find a place where they experience a heightened awareness of living with nature in the city.
Leutschenbach Island As a Public Space and Nature Theatre
Leutschenbach Island expands the green space between two green playgrounds on either side of the creek and accentuates the Leutschenbach green corridor. For those who pass over it, it creates a generous open space, a nature theatre, a place where people can stop to talk to each other, look at and be with the flowing water.
The Leutschenbach Over Time
The Leutschenbach is part of large riverine network that has existed for centuries, long before the arrival of the city. The creek had originally flowed through a wetland, which was prone to flooding, but in the mid-19th century, with industrialization and modernization, the area was drained and the streams were regulated; as part of this process, the Leutschenbach was transformed from a winding creek into a deep, straight canal. The 21st century has witnessed the renaturalization of the river streams, including the Leutschenbach. Such a redesign of the rivers and streams is in keeping with the new understanding of the human condition in the Anthropocene Age, which views people as the co-creators of natural processes and stresses the coexistence between people and nature. It makes sense, then, to view Leutschenbach Island as a biotope that brings together people, water, plants and animals. Today, the experience of nature is a cultural experience.