Metaschema – Adaptable city of Heidelberg

SEO EUROPAN12 urban planning

The withdrawal of the US armed forces and NATO headquarters at the end of 2013 will create the opportunity for Heidelberg to convert the military site Campbell Barracks to civil use.


Heidelberg, Germany, 2013

Project Team: Martin Boleš (SK), Erika Bányayová (SK), Pedro Pena (CH), Daniel Zarhy (PL)



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The Campbell barracks and the Mark Twain Village introduce a unique urban and architectural typology. We strive to preserve and enhances these qualities in order to transform the quarter into a mixed neighbourhood for small business, services and cultural/leisure activities with its own distinct identity and to have its own role in the city. In addition, we continue the communal effort to convert Römerstrasse from a traffic axis to an urban, walkable street, an urban link between Weststadt and Rohrbach.

We propose a new way of urban thinking – we deploy a “landscape carpet” that joins and unifies the different free standing buildings. It is imagined as an uneven grid of programs, activities as well as a possibility for future potential developments. It performs not only in the ground plane but also modifies it three dimensionally. The landscape carpet allows us to stitch the different urban textures together, to facilitate access to the site through Römerstrasse, to connect to Rheinstrasse and to define a diverse array of public programs in the site.

With the “landscape carpet” strategy, we suggest to adapt the barracks to current and future needs. Rather than creating a prominent architecture that forces a new identity and closes options as it obliges a choice we create a new kind of urbanism – one that is generous and democratic.