Freising Waterscapes Team 1 2022

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Area Freising
Place Upper Bavaria
Country Germany
Topics Landscape architecture, Water areas, Comunity
Author(s) Agata Ziobrowska, Christopher Samuel Lahaye, Evelina Saveleva, Maria Beatriz Guedes Quintella and Sahar Esmaeilian


This study about the river Moosach is relevant in the social, environmental, economic, and political scope. Regarding the fact that the river is a 50km tributary of the river Isar and crosses some urbanized Bavarian cities, the political importance of managing changes in this affluent is in bringing more attention to other water areas derived from big river basins and possibly creating different legislations to prevent impacts caused by riverbank cities - even though they already can't legally grow as urban areas. Furthermore, studies done to carry out modifications that aim to improve landscape quality, preserve biodiversity, and reduce the urban impact on the environment will have a great social and environmental impact once the theory is translated into community projects. Being capable of accomplishing real community projects would not only bring together the different layers of the region but also would create a special relationship between the city dwellers and their water areas. This bond could become a fostering for stakeholders to carry more about the landscape.

Location and scope

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Water as a natural system

Geomorphology, typologies and dynamics of water areas

  • The Moosach, is a around 32 km long left tributary of the Isar which headwaters are a system of various moor drainage ditches. The main spring ditch is the Massow canal that is located in the east of Riedmoos and the estuary into the Isar is southeast of Oberhummel. The estuary used to be upstream at Marzling but due to the correction to the Isar in 1913 ist position was changed. In the urban area of Freising the Moosach devides into several smaller arms: the Wörthmoosach, Herrenmoosach, Stadtmoosach and Schleifermoosach. Those are partly connected by an underground network of canals. The first three arms join again at the eastern outskirts of Freising, but the Schleifermoosach joins the Moosach just after the village of Marzling. Below Marzling, the Moosach flows next to the Isar along the hillside of the Tertiary Hill Area. Especialy in the urban area the natural river flow has been completely changed. As it can be seen in the map below even the natural flow before and after the urban area of Freising has been changed. In the past there were several floods. For example, on the 02.06.2013, where the Schleifermoosach flooded the city of Freising in the shortest time and destroyed a lot of gardens and basements. In the HQ100 flood event, a flood that statisticly happens once a hundret years, it shows that huge parts of Freising will be flooded by the Moosach.


Moosach scale

The river Moosach is born in Langenbach as an affluent of the river Isar and a continuation of the affluent Mühlbach. It has approximately 50km which in majority is preserved. The environment along the river changes once it passes from natural to urban landscape, and it is possible to identity an extent area subject to flooding where the soil has been sealed, and its immediate green surroundings.

Urban scale

In the dense urbanized area, the river can be found in 3 stages: surrounded by concrete areas; bordered on one side by concrete and with a green area on the other; and green area in both sides. Even though there is still some ciliary vegetation along the river, most of the urban section was embanked, reducing the diameter of the river, changing the flow of the water, and therefore affecting the natural fauna and flora.

Water as a living space

During the empirical analysis, it was possible to observe that the river is the natural habitat for some animal species such as birds, including ducks, blackbirds, sparrows, great tits and bullfinch, and fish. Outside of the Urban area the river also contains species of vegetation still preserved as the original natural system.

Nonetheless, the river's morphology was altered in the downtown area of Freising, and the water quality decreased due to the urbanization process. To some extent, the lack of environmental awareness of the past societies was responsible for damaging the health of the Moosach River. Even though there is still some pollution level in the water area, there are parts of water preservations for drinking water. Regarding the morphology of the river, it is possible to identify in the non-protected sections some sedimentation, which can be caused by the lack of ciliary forests. This factor reduces the flow of the water and can endanger some species.

Nowadays, the river is largely protected, having just around 10km of urbanized length, where it was reduced to canals, and landfilled for the construction of houses and paved streets.

Blue and Green Infrastructure

  • Major potential elements of a green/blue infrastructure network are floodplain restauration: removal of embankments and afforestation, riparian forest restauration, planting of hedgerows (native species) and of course connecting biotopes.

Water as a cultural space

Land use and water

In the years of its foundation, the lands of Freising hosted religious buildings for the work of Benedictine monks on its two hilltops. One of the first local agriculture was focused on barley growing for the brewery on the Weihenstephan hill. The city started to grow still in the Middle Ages with the settling of some houses around the valley. However, through centuries the land use in Freising has changed little, being geared towards local agriculture, brewery, religious reasons, and housing. The city rivers didn’t seem to show great cultural or landscape importance at the time. Nonetheless, they were mainly used to supply water to the city.

Only around the XIX century, the city starts to grow - with a progressive population growth of around 2300 people per decade. Therefore, a range of commerce, industry, transportation system, essential services, and housing, urbanizing, and industrializing the area.

Before the imposition of environmental protection laws, there was an indiscriminate use of the land to establish the urban system. Done by overlapping and canalizing rivers, destroying ciliary vegetation, deforesting areas for agriculture, and so forth. These results in Driving forces such as Deforestation, Industrialization, Urbanization, and Land Use.

Even though there is a lot of progress regarding the landscape and environmental preservation, some footprints of the old land-use patterns are still observed in the city and some drivers, such as Urbanization and Land use, still put at risk the city’s landscape. Those are not likely to vanish, but their impact can be softened.

Cultural and spatial typologies of water areas

During the centuries, the relationship with the river Moosach has changed. Till 1880 the nature along the river still very preserved. However, with the city's growth, some parts of the river were overlapped by streets and housing, leaving just a few open gaps of flowing water cornered by sealed areas.

Walking around the town you can observe how the urban morphology (some housing and streets) follows the original river design in some sections, even though it was necessary to a landfill some parts, and concrete others to firm up the foundation of the houses. Simultaneously, along the city, underground canals were created in an endeavor of less intervention in the riverway.

In the past and present scenarios, the citizens don't have a close relationship with the river. In an attempt to enhance the conviviality of the locals with their water area, in 2020, some constructions involving the river took place, openning the streets and sidewalks to the river in the downtown area, and creating a fishway in a more remore area.

Sacred spaces and heritage

The city of Freising founded in 739 A.D still holds historical architecture with significant cultural value to the local and the Bavarian history, such as Freising abbey, the monastery brewery and some parts of the old monastery that was located in Weihenstephan Hill.

The abbey was built from 1159 to 1205, but the original building was modified along the time. From the ecclesiastic buildings from the city’s foundation period, the cathedral is one of the few buildings still standing in the city which holds a meaningful value in Bavarian history. Furthermore, as part of the main landscapes of the city, the church can bring a sense of belonging to the locals.

Founded in 800 A.D. the Weihenstephan Brewery was the part of the benedict monastery, and since the discovery of medieval documents authorizing the bier production by the monks, it is known as the world’s oldest still active brewery. Thus, its importance goes beyond the borders of Bavaria and is recognized worldwide. Still, it is part of the pride of Freising locals to hold this significant title.

The monastery building of Freising, built around 830A.D. and partly demolished around the XIX century, still holds cultural value to the Bavarian state. The remnant architecture nowadays is part of the buildings of two universities: Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied science, and the Freising campus of the Technical University of Munich based in Munich city. The university campus holds for students a meaningful sense of appreciation as the base of adult academic life. While the construction holds cultural value for the Bavarian history.

Visual appearance and landscape narrative

  • Which elements are essential for the landscape character?
  • Has the landscape been painted or otherwise depicted, when and whom? Which elements are essential?
  • Which narratives exist? Who has written about this landscape or depicted it in some way?
  • You can add text and images

During the centuries, the city of Freising has been mapped, painted, and written about, and we can identify the main character that the topography has in the landscape. The two hills (Weihenstephan Hill and Cathedral Hill) and the rivers are very present in most historical reports. Painters, engravers, and geographers have illustrated the characteristic topography over the centuries, such as Matthäus Merian, Valentin Gappingg, the Philipp Apian, and others.

Furthermore, historical accounts and short stories have been written about the city of Freising, their tales, the hills, and even the monastery.

  • Die Traditionen des Klosters Weihenstephan, from Bodo. Uhl.

Nowadays, the locals seem to identify themselves not only with the topography and the river, but also with some components of their daily life scale, such as the wild garlic plantation.

Water and People

Accessibility and usability

Across the river, it is possible to identify a few areas of water accessibility in some parts of the city parks and squares. This happens mainly because of the shrubby vegetation and urban constructions along the river. However, this is not enough to move interested individuals away from the conviviality with the water flow and the calm abiotic Landscape. Attentively, while walking down the city in some parts of the river Moosach you can observe the (sometimes frustrated) attempt of the locals to enjoy the slender and short canals, either by extending the yard to the edge or just the flower beds. Those curious enough dare to get wet in not very inviting parts, and leave their mark with beer hulls at the bottom of the canal.

The obstacles between the river and the city are not that difficult to break, and the only part missing is more daring people interested in creating changes to facilitate accessibility. Luckily, new projects are arising in the city center and already show an endeavor to break this barrier between the city and the river.

Community Mapping

In a general idea of Freising, the members of the community identified during the living lab were farmers, families, kids, single adults, students, commuters, local visitors, elderlies, disabled people, tourists, and the fauna and flora. They are distributed in the city in a non-organized way and interact with each other through mutual or opposing interests. Identifying interests is crucial to comprehend whether the relationship is positive or negative, organizing the groups in the order of dominance of power and voice over the community arrangement. The following conceptual maps illustrate the communities, their interests, and their power relation:

The stakeholders are the party interested in investing in the city, aiming for some profit. Regarding the situation of Freising as one the of most urbanized cities in Bavaria, the local stakeholders identified were farmers, hospitals, local universities, schools, landlords, city council, hostels owners, city commerce, and the external stakeholders – that can be part of the local stakeholders – are hotel owners, scholars/ experts, legislators, tourists, and social/ environmental activists. All stakeholders have specific interests in the city and the community members, thus, creating individual relationships with each of them. The following maps illustrate their relationship and interests.

Possible Futures

The situation in Freising is by now controlled but it still can improve. Currently some constructions in the downtown area opened space for the river to be seen and enjoyed by the locals. However, the microclimate in the city is still at risk facing the possibility of urban sprawl, which would higher the weather temperature, the levels of sound, water and air pollution, endangering natural habitats. Therefore, regarding the sustainable development goals, it is necessary to do something to reduce the impact of the city in the climate change.

In the worst-case scenario the conurbation of satellites cities of Munich would increase the pressures over the environment, causing more damage to the landscape and annihilating natural habitats and the original vegetations of the water area. The air and the river would be polluted, not by trash, once it can be prevented by the law, but with toxic gases from more cars and transports in the city. Also, the noises of the urban areas would scare away the birds by embrittling their preserved area.

In the best-case scenario, the city would grow healthfully, with a good landscape planning that would allow the common convivially between the new habitants that would eighter way come, with the biodiversity. The diameter of the river would be widened, and the locals would have a better relationship with their water area, increasing their care for the environment. The city would be more sustainable and the impact over the microclimate change would be reduced.

Collaborative Goal Setting

  • Define strategic planning objectives based on the evaluation findings from your analysis
  • Ideally, involve the community of your living labs into this process
  • Link back to your original targets from section one and the Development Goals
  • 150 words text contribution

The scenario elaboration took into consideration the perspective of four different stakeholders: local citizens, universities, farmers, and nature. These collaborative participants were chosen based on the power mapping (illustrated above) created in this specific society. Through these perspectives, it was possible to understand the needs of each participant and sketch different possible scenarios. From each future possibility, some aspects were taken into consideration for the final best tangible scenario.

Taking into account the needs of our stakeholders, we have created the most possible and favorable scenario for the city, which is our basis for planning.

The resulting scenario helped define the main concept of our intervention which is Sponge city. Therefore, some specific strategies were considered, such as planning green public spaces, multi-functional flooding areas, animal-aided designs, river accessibility, and blue infrastructure. Focusing on flood prevention, rainwater management, evaporation, cool down effect, and biodiversity.

Spatial Strategy and Transect

  • translate your strategic goals into a vision
  • develop a spatial translation of your vision
  • exemplify your vision in the form of a transect with concrete interventions
  • add map(s) and visualizations

From Theory of Change to Implementation

  • For implementing your vision: Which partnerships are needed? Which governance model is required?
  • Who needs to act and how? Draw and explain a change/process model/timeline
  • Which resources are needed? On which assets can you build?
  • add 150 words text and visuals


Process Reflection

  • Reflect in your intercultural and interdisciplinary team on the outcomes of your study
  • Which limitations were you facing?
  • What have you learnt from each other?
  • What did you learn in the Living Labs?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • You can also use diagrams/visuals
  • 250 words text