All images are author's unless otherwise noted
After class I jumped on the train and finally got off at a stop that had been interesting me for quite some time, Gleisdreieck. The park by the same name is right next to the train stop and indeed it's the park, not the stop, that had been on my list. But the proximity to a train stop is not to be overstated. Indeed the park's history has a lot to do with that proximity.
The park, whose name means "rail triangle", was formed by a triangle of rail lines in the 1800s. The Dresdner Bahnhof, Anhalter Bahnhof, and Potsdam Bahnhof all were in the direct vicinity of the land. The land was not, though, yet a park. Indeed after the second world war it became a waste land, a home only for unwanted items. Natural elements fought back, however, and a small urban oasis was beginning to form. The Berlin Wall nearby made for an even less desirable land plot and aided the vegetation's mighty attempt at reclaiming the land.
In 2006 the city of Berlin proposed turning Gleisdreieck into a park, a way to connect Potsdamer Platz (read about its own sustainability characteristics) and the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Schöneberg. A large effort got underway to remove toxic elements from the ground along with waste, plant new vegetation, add a footpath, and build important park features. In 2011 the park opened and in the following year won European Prize for Urban Public Space.
Today, Gleisdreieck supports skate parks, basketball courts, bike and jogging paths, a cafe, a minimalist playground that itself promotes sustainability through its low material use, dance stages, a public gardening project, and large open spaces for reading, relaxing, and just hanging out. Moreover, the plethora of train connections that once doomed the park now make it incredibly accessible. As I walked through the park, I saw people doing everything from playing basketball to listening to music to reading books to eating ice cream to biking to playing with happy dogs to napping. Everyone from adults leaving work to students leaving school enjoyed the park in their own ways.
The process of reclamation undergone at Gleisdreieck makes for quite a sustainable space. Moreover, its ability to speak to so many different types of people and offer such a plethora of activities in one way makes for a practical urban space. This combination of practical and sustainable, diverse and singular, deep history and rich future, helps the space make urban nature part of the daily experience.