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 Mimram Footbridge and the Garden of Two Banks
A symbolic and innovative project of transborder cooperation between the towns of Strasbourg (France) and Kehl (Germany).

Dorothée ORJOL
european institute of cultural routes
Dorothée Orjol
02 June 2006
A SYMBOLIC PROJECT with a European value




Some years ago, the Institute had participated with both of the municipalities of Strasbourg / France and Kehl / Germany, on the first symbolic project of literary inscriptions by European authors on the Bridge of Europe, an action to which we dedicate some pages of our site.

Both municipalities, always desirous of bringing together their populations, served as model of European cooperation and launched the big project of the "Garden of Two Banks" in 1995, on Michel Krieger's initiative.

It concerns the organisation of a border space of about 150 hectares which in a harmonious setting will become a garden, in the centre of which will rise a modern Footbridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

The name of ?Project of the Garden of Two Banks? defined the objectives of the project as follows: for the towns of Kehl and Strasbourg, the banks of the Rhine offer a vast site on which they intend to achieve durable settlements. Urban and tourist animations, as well as cultural events could be organised there. It is also a question of ensuring the well-balanced transformation of the sequences of landscape which succeed one another on both sides of the river: harbour and urban zones, forest sectors in the South.
The competition should allow the elaboration of organisations, as well as operational tools aiming at:
* valuing the banks of the Rhine and the Bridge of Europe as a meeting place and a privileged site of the transborder conglomeration between Strasbourg and Kehl,
* modifying the symbolic identity of the site: from the perception of a border passage in the physical and cultural continuances,
* taking into account the environmental stakes and the preservation of nature,
* offering new public spaces.



A GARDEN AND A FOOTBRIDGE



Two international competitions have been launched to choose the architects who would be in charge of the realisation, one for the Garden, and the other for the Footridge.

The creation of the "Garden of Two Banks", a vast cross-border landscaped garden including 56 hectares divided by the Rhine, but which will be reunited by the creation of this new kind of public space, has been entrusted to the team of the German landscape architect Rüdiger BROSK, based in Essen and Düsseldorf. He has chosen to give the Garden a circular structure, to evoke Europe and to endow it with stairs of water and with waterfalls.
The prize-winning project took the name of "Garden of Time", and it will be "a unique example of creation of a new European territory" (www.art-public.com) and will help " to completely rethink the urban and landscaped development of this territory by transforming the former transborder fracture of the Rhine into a "green lung" nested at the junction of the two countries". (Yveline MOEGLEN, La Commission Strasbourg / Kehl, March 1999)


It is Marc MIMRAM, a Parisian architect who already has to his name the creation of numerous bridges in France, who has been chosen to be in charge of the Footbridge. This modern Footridge, a real work of art, exclusively for pedestrians, the handicapped and cyclists, will consist of two pieces which will join in the centre and will form a place of relaxation and a new view point of the Rhine.
The Footbridge will be the central element of the Garden, a modern link between two peoples.

The work on the Garden of Two Banks began on November 4th, 2002 on the French side whilst they had begun 10 months before on the German side. If the change of municipality in Strasbourg provokes anxieties in the German side for the continuation of the project, it should be achieved in the foreseen period, that is in April, 2004.
Indeed, the first transborder Festival of Landscape Art will take place, if everything's going well, from April 23rd until October 10th, 2004 and will see the official inauguration of this magnificent project which is at the same time symbolic and well anchored in the reality of both towns and the daily life of their inhabitants.




THE FOOTBRIDGE


A LINK BETWEEN THE INHABITANTS OF BOTH TOWNS


The inauguration of this new space of friendship of the peoples and of European cooperation will thus also give a place to a Festival of Landscape Art, already eagerly awaited by both populations.

Indeed, the inclusion of the inhabitants in the project is important.
A group of citizens from both towns have created an association by the name of "Garten Jardin" which activates the realisation of the project and organises conferences the project: "It is a common and brotherly project consolidating Kehl and Strasbourg in their Rhenish role and asserting the European position of the Euroregion Alsace / country of Bade.
It is profitable for tourism and ecological stakes, as well as for the image of Strasbourg and Kehl as innovative vectors.
It is in the main line of the Humanist tradition which made the wealth of our regions, Strasbourg and Kehl.
It is innovative and allows us to stress private or associative cooperations by favouring the mutual interest.
Finally it participates in the development of the districts of the Port of the Rhine."

This bridge between two banks and between two peoples, who remained for a long time enemies, this garden place of relaxation and shared pleasures, has naturally a heavy emotional and symbolic load.

"A new page of the French-German history is maybe written there. "Traditionally, the inhabitants of my town were in the habit of saying: Kehl is on the border of the Rhine, Strasbourg on the border of the Ill", said Günther Petry, mayor of Kehl (Le Moniteur du 3 mars 2000). "The Garden of Two Banks offers us the occasion to surmount the inheritance of the second world war. For the first time, citizens of Kehl discuss with those of Strasbourg the things which concern us all. I am very proud to have made a success of this European first."." (Strasbourg, sous les feux croisés de l?Europe et des quartiers sensibles, Enquête de Pierre Gras, Richard Quincerot et Luc Stéphan, Rencontre Nationale des Agences d'Urbanisme, ère urbaine, aires urbaines : les enjeux de la gouvernance, Strasbourg -26-27-28 septembre 2000).

From a divided border, the Rhine can become a link.



A EUROPEAN EXAMPLE OF TRANSBORDER COOPERATION



The cooperation between Strasbourg and Kehl had an important moment in April 1998 during the decision to set up a transborder Commission under the name of "Committee Strasbourg / Kehl", composed of elected members (2x5) and administrative representatives of both municipalities (2x3) and co-chaired by both Mayors. Its vocation is the examination of any question of current events or any important project concerning the both banks of the Rhine.
This body, set up under the Agreement of Karlsruhe, has however a flexible structure.

"Initially designed to evoke at the highest level the transborder business coming only from the competence of the two towns of Strasbourg and Kehl, the Committee quickly saw its sphere of activity widened in the question of competence of the Urban community of Strasbourg: town planning, transport, household refuse, etc. " (Yveline MOEGLEN, La Commission Strasbourg / Kehl, Mars 1999).

With this project, both municipalities prove that it is possible to pass from an institutional cooperation to a real cooperation. It is a new step in a solid Europe, that lives and is wanted by the citizens.
"The mayor of Kehl, Günther Petry, did not forget to raise that " Strasbourg demonstrates there that the European spirit does not exist only in the conference rooms of its institutions, but that it is ready to put it into practice in every day life"." (CUS Magazine, Issue 18 - February, 2002).

A small wink of eye to demonstrate that this project is European in all its aspects: the agents of the Service of the green spaces of the city and the Urban Community of Strasbourg indeed went to Netherlands in December 2002 to select some 600 trees which will be planted in the Garden of Two Banks. The Garden will not only be French and German, but truly European!


NB: the photos have been gracefully lent to us by Michel Krieger.



 
 
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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 Website of M. Mimram
  The architect and his works
   
 Town of Strasbourg
 
   
 Town of Kehl
 
   
 Cooperation around Rhein
  French - German- Swiss Conference of the Superior Rhein
   
 ADEUS Website
  Agence de développement et d'urbanisme de l'agglomération Strasbourgeoise
   
 FORUM
  Website of the Franco-German information
   
 editorial content
 The Bridge of Europe
 
   
 documents
 A space for intercomprehension
  Michel Krieger's text on this subject
   
 Jardin des Deux Rives
  Presentation of the project.
   
 


 

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