Running out of Land

Designing strategies for Ammerland’s competing land use demands (D)

Responsible: Leibniz Universität Hannover // Martin Prominski, Verena Butt, Christiane Kania
Case study area: Ammerland, Lower Saxony
Funding: Stadt Westerstede, Gemeinde Bad Zwischenahn, Gemeinde Edewecht, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Landwirtschaftskammer Niedersachsen, Bund Deutscher Baumschulen im Bereich Weser-Ems (BDB), DB, Sixt, Osswald, architekturbedarf.
Students and teachers: 36 students and 16 teachers/researchers of 9 universities/schools: Edinburgh College of Art/ University of Edinburgh (UK), École Nationale supérieure du paysage Versailles/Marseilles (F), Amsterdam School of the Arts / Academy of Architecture (NL), Universitat Polytècnica de Catalunya/Escola Tècnica Superior d´Arquitectura à Barcelona (ES), Leibniz Universität Hannover (D), Peking University (CHN), Kobe Design University (J), UVA Virginia (USA) und University of Ljubljana (SLO)
Cooperations: MCON Consulting, City of Westerstede, Municipality of Bad Zwischenahn, Municipality of Edewecht, Lower Saxony Chamber of Agriculture, Confederation of German Nurseries in the Weser-Ems Region (BDB), County Ammerland, European Centre for Moor and Climate (Europäisches Fachzentrum für Moor und Klima: EFMK), Griendtsveen AG, Bruns Pflanzen, Park der Gärten.



Ammerland’s landscape is characterised by its nurseries

Region and topic
Ammerland’s park-like landscape, with its meadows, groups of trees, hedges and nurseries, is being increasingly challenged by competing demands, in connection with industrialised agriculture, construction work, nature protection areas and peat extraction. All these land uses are aiming for expansion, but space is limited – Ammerland is running out of land. All users are suffering from the increasing competition, and so is the cultural landscape. Above all, these recent changes have a strong influence on the appearance of the traditional cultural landscape, which is the backbone for local tourism. The Summer School sought solutions for the challenging competition surrounding the different demands for land use in a historical landscape.

How can competition be transformed into cooperation? How does a historical, but nowadays economic, landscape look like? Which role do the regional stakeholders play? And how can landscape architects find landscape concepts based on cooperative strategies? The Central Ammerland region approached us with these questions for our 6th EMiLA Summer School. The Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Sciences in Hannover welcomed students and teachers from all over the world. Hannover’s EMiLA managers, Verena Butt and Martin Prominski, organised the 10-day programme.


Earth models in the tractor-hall of the agricultural school

After excursions, guided tours, interviews with stakeholders and a research phase, students visualised their first impressions of the landscape in an earth sculpture in the tractor hall of the agricultural school that accommodated us.

The interviews with the stakeholders led to a better understanding of the topics the different stakeholders are connected with. To find out more about the aspirations, conflicts, threats and future opportunities, seven groups of students each assumed the role of a “landscape player”. Farmers, nursery owners and regional managers were invited as stakeholders to take part and were actively involved in the research process. In the end, we had the understanding of seven mappings, which showed the situation of each of the stakeholder groups and visualised each group’s “perfect landscape”. What would the perfect landscape of a nursery owner, a farmer, a peat extractor, an environmentalist, a mayor, a regional manager or a tourism manager look like? Are they really all as contrary as the conflicting parties assume?


The situation of peat extractors

The students negotiated the interests of the different stakeholders through design and defined spatial concepts that integrate the needs of the different “players”. To realise these spatial concepts, the students defined “missions” for all stakeholders, defining who is responsible for changes, and with whom cooperation should be sought. The methodology was developed by Verena Butt and Christiane Kania, whose PhD discusses the possibilities of using playful methods in landscape design.



The EU-farming-obligations should be used to strenghten Ammerland’s water system

The students’ proposals showed that the stakeholders’ apparently contrary  positions c ould  be harmonised or even  used to strengthen each other, if all  their  needs  and interests are  conceived of in an integrative  view.  For example, the students suggested that farmers, who have to prove that they use 5% of their fields for plants of higher ecological value, should cooperate with environmentalists, who aim to  promote hedges and the water system by improving the quality and widening the  ditch  banks.  Peat extraction  produces  many conflicts as it transforms the agricultural landscape into  a desert-like open landscape. But this land-use, now considered unfavourable,  provides good  opportunites  for wetland restoration after extraction. Instead of hiding them as  is now  done, opening  up the active sites to visitors (in cooperation with tourism managers )  would  help  them  to understand the transformation processes.  Long-term projects should be established in collaboration with environmentalists.

The nursery owners  need to  cooperate with municipal  authorities and tourism managers: They could use the city’s public space to exhibit their plants and open  up  their companies to tourists to  extend their markets.


Stakeholders were actively involved in the process


Abbildung Ammerland

The teams defined cooperations of the stakeholders to realise their spatial concepts

The cooperation with the regional manager from MCON, the city of Westerstede, the municipalities of Edewecht and Bad Zwischenahn, the Confederation of German Nurseries in the Weser Ems Region (BDB), the county administration, the peat extraction company Griendtsveen AG, the European Centre for Moor and Climate/EFMK, farmers, nursery owners and the Lower Saxony chamber of Agriculture made it possible to transfer the project results to the region’s official planning processes. The workshop’s outcome was a key inspiration in Ammerland’s successful application for LEADER, a European regional funding scheme. The Summer School’s results will continue to have an impact on landscape development over the next few years.


The highlight of the Summer School was the final exhibition on September 5th, when regional experts and laymen were invited to discuss the design proposals.

Documentation of the Workshop:

>> Download Report as pdf