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Essay excerpted from Landscape Tunings by Silvia Benedito and Alexander Häusler, published by Actar Publishers.

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Danube’s Atmospheres

The atmospheres of the Donau in Ingolstadt are an essential part for the design of the Stadt Park Donau | Donau-Loop. A constant presence in the history of the city, the Danube is a living environment associated with various narratives and uses—an immigration route and salt trade itinerary, military training area and long-range bike trail (the “Via Danubia”), also a green corridor and a flood hazard. These identities have not only made the river present in the city but have also generated conflicting attitudes towards the riverine space over the years. The river is inhospitable, unsafe, or segregated but also appealing, wild, tranquil, beautiful, and unique to the city of Ingolstadt. In the Stadt Park Donau | Donau-Loop Project the river is considered a special milieu, with all of its potentials to be (re)integrated into the city dynamics. This reintegration into the city’s civic and recre­ational life, and the shifting of the community’s perception, are two comple­mentary projects of fundamental importance. We believe the atmospheres of the riverine landscapes of the Donau in Ingolstadt are shared spaces to embrace and to inhabit; they are the sense and emotional spaces that connect people with their past and future; they shape the collective environment of ecology, culture, well-being, leisure, and solitude. Aesthetic engagement with these atmospheres is therefore essential for the project as it allows emotional reconnection with a sense of shared and collective experience. The project builds upon the unique particularities of the living and abiotic matter of the existing riverine atmospheres: the seasonal cycles, microclimatic exchanges, river fluctuations, aural gradients, light, shade, humidity and scent. While the goals of this regenerative project are to catalyze ecological resiliency, reclaim inaccessible and fragmented public spaces, and reconquer a new urban identity for the city close to the river. The primary objective is to increase sensorial engagement with the Danube environment as a way to reposition the river in the community’s senses and imagination. The atmospheres along the Danube, unique and distinct in the city of Ingolstadt, is the new “places” that the community may inhabit and sense, feel and discover, think and reflect, and recognize and imagine the potentials of the riverine environments for one’s delight.

The aesthetics ambitions coupled with the ideas of wonder and delight of the Stadt Park Donau | Donau-Loop are mirrored in the exhibition developed at the Museum für Konkrete Kunst (MKK), in Ingolstadt. While the Stadt Park Donau | Donau-Loop engages and further enhances the existing qualities of the riverine landscapes as a design proposal, the exhibition at the MKK communicates the same environments as a means to directly engage the community. Through evocation and sensorial engagement, the exhibition presents a journey through several of the river’s reinvented environments, including the alluvial forest and the river beds. The exhibition creates a series of immersive ambiances through a variety of media and formats. The visitor is invited to meander through spaces filled with various gradients of sound, scent, humidity and light, and to imagine the future experience of the river as a new series of places in the city. This is particular relevant in the Donau-Raum and Wald-Raum.

In the Donau-Raum changes in the floor material upon entry—from stone paver to pine bark and gravel, respectively—signal to the visitor’s attention. The shifting from inert ground to organic cover, from bright to dim light, from loud to smooth sounds, from unscented to earthly fragrance, makes the space alive, and forces the visitor to slow their pace and focus on the immaterial, sensuous qualities of the space. A video projection of the diurnal cycle of the Danube takes place on the fourteen meter wall of the Donau-Raum. This time-lapse footage consolidates sequential recordings taken from sunrise to sunset. It reveals the sounds of the nearby neighborhoods, the river’s natural fluctuations— the water, the reflections, the rippling of the water surface moved by wind—and, to the surprise of many visitors, its inhabitation by small boats, swimmers, dogs, wild life, bikers. Interaction with the tree stumps on the ground as one sits or stops by activates the projection of vignettes from the proposed station designs onto the Danube’s footage. The atmosphere is saturated with the moisture and scent of the pine bark. The alive and the imagined, the designed and the real, collapse and coexist in the room.

In the Wald-Raum the floor becomes white gravel that gives rise to tall river-birch tree trunks. Their height connects the two floors of the Museum and accentuates the narrowness and volume of the space. This effect forces the visitor to look up, becoming unbalanced by the uneven ground of gravel and the sporadic placement of tree trunks. The sound produced by the gravel as one walks echoes in the room and triggers the projection of 360+ Weathers (Die Donau In Ingolstadt). This time-lapse video is the result of one year of daily photographs at the Konrad-Adenauer-Brücke in Ingolstadt. Shot from October 2012 to October 2013, this footage captures the ineffable space of the river through its atmospheric and meteorological variances.

The exhibition aims to evoke the riverine environments while arousing the visitor’s imagination. The atmospheric qualities of the Danube-space are not suppressed or forgotten, but rather seen as valuable and essential features in the design process—one that engages the community through the evocation of living in (and with) the Danube in Ingolstadt.

Essay excerpted from Landscape Tunings by Silvia Benedito and Alexander Häusler, published by Actar Publishers.

Learn more:

urbanNext (April 22, 2024) Danube’s Atmospheres. Retrieved from https://urbannext.net/danubes-atmospheres/.
Danube’s Atmospheres.” urbanNext – April 22, 2024, https://urbannext.net/danubes-atmospheres/
urbanNext February 19, 2024 Danube’s Atmospheres., viewed April 22, 2024,<https://urbannext.net/danubes-atmospheres/>
urbanNext – Danube’s Atmospheres. [Internet]. [Accessed April 22, 2024]. Available from: https://urbannext.net/danubes-atmospheres/
Danube’s Atmospheres.” urbanNext – Accessed April 22, 2024. https://urbannext.net/danubes-atmospheres/
Danube’s Atmospheres.” urbanNext [Online]. Available: https://urbannext.net/danubes-atmospheres/. [Accessed: April 22, 2024]

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