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1 January 1970 -

Green light for the “Waller Sand”: Bremen’s landscaped pair of velvet gloves

New harbour district

Nature remains at the heart of the Molenturm tower

New design for the land around the Molenturm tower
Molenturm in der Überseestadt Bremen
New design for the land around the Molenturm tower © WFB / Frank Pusch

Towering majestically for 12 metres into the skies by the turning basin, the Molenturm has braved the wind and weather for over 100 years. Known affectionately amongst the locals as “mouse tower”, it guides the way with its trusty beacon. The tower is not only a monument you can see from far and wide; it’s also a popular destination for day trippers along the former harbour basin and the River Weser. It symbolises the Überseestadt, and it’s been a listed building since 2000. The “Weiche Kante” has now been given the green light, a project to create a new leisure oasis for visitors and residents to relax and unwind on the waterfront in the west of Bremen. The natural paradise around the Molenturm is now getting redesigned – with a touch of landscaped velvet gloves… 

The Überseestadt is getting a “city beach”: The stones currently found by the turning basin are going to make way for a beautifully landscaped sand embankment. The “Weiche Kante” (“Soft Edge”) will not just be a visually impressive beach area and welcome space for leisure and relaxation on the waterfront; it will also offer sensible and necessary flood protection. The Weiche Kante is being funded through the German government’s investment programme for national urban development projects. Over 80% of the required funding is being provided by Bremen’s ERDF scheme and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Building work on the Weiche Kante project got under way in August 2017, as the land around the old Molenturm tower started to be redeveloped. 

However, the ships navigating around the turning basin will make it impossible to bathe by the Weiche Kante.

Under the elms to the Molenturm

The land around the Molenturm is going to be made more attractive and accessible by carefully redeveloping its partially overgrown areas. This restructuring will be carried out by focusing on the existing infrastructure, including a redeveloped path to connect the old lighthouse directly to the promenade and facilitate access to the Molenturm for people with limited mobility. The “old-new” path will be around 4 cm higher than the surrounding area and will be marked out with a 1 cm-wide steel edge. It will be flanked by a picturesque row of Ulmus ‘Columella’ elm trees. These trees are immune to Dutch elm disease; they have a thin crown and columnar shape. It is a medium-sized tree that can grow to around 15 metres tall and 5 metres wide. 

Visualisation of the Molenturm area (former "Weiche Kante")
© A 24 LANDSCHAFT Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH/monokrom

In future, bicycle holders and seating will be located on the same level as the ferry terminal. The columns installed in the turning basin for the official landing pier will also be fitted with brooding platforms for common gulls. The little square by the Molenturm is only suitable for pedestrians and cannot be accessed on a bicycle. Many visitors are particularly fond of the imposing tree on the Molenturm square, and so it should be preserved and integrated harmoniously into the square space.

The redevelopment of the land around the Molenturm is being carried out by Bremeninvest alongside landscape designers from the renowned company A24 LANDSCHAFT.

Visualisation of the project Strandpark Waller Sand (former "Weiche Kante")
© A 24 LANDSCHAFT Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH

A centre for indigenous plant species

The particularly sunny location and dry, permeable soil around the Molenturm and former railway ballast area has led to the emergence of a rich landscape of indigenous flowering plants. This characteristic vegetation will most definitely be preserved and only slightly and very carefully complemented with predominantly indigenous species. For example, fresh greenery will be needed in places where new soil is added to adjust the height of the land. Lawns will be sown in places to level out new and existing plantations.

Which species will be boosted? 

The plantation around the Molenturm will be complemented with species already found in the area. For example:

Which species will be added?

Additional bushes will be planted by the embankment, such as indigenous roses (already found in the area). These will not just make the area nicer to look at; they will also minimise the danger of falling down the slope. To make sure a bit of colour emerges in spring, two species of early blossoming plants will also be resettled:  

The pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is actually classified as extinct in Bremen but is set to experience a renaissance in the Überseestadt. 

What needs to go? 

The bushes and trees in some areas will need to be cut back or removed, such as the invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and the overgrown brambles and nettles.

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