What bearing can the expression of “place” have on the “placeless geography” of the contemporary suburban metropolis? Unravelling the design the Wasserkrater garden in the German town Bad Oeynhausen, designed by Agence Ter will give suggestions for possible relations. Bad Oeynhausen used to be defined by its spa function, but in the last decades the town has all but disappeared in a generic suburban field, an extensive area of scattered urbanization. Its origin, the underground water, has become invisible. In the suburban metropolis, a “placeless geography” seems to have replaced the localism and variety of places. In contrast, “place” is a specific part of space with a distinctive character, perceivable as an ensemble. The analysis of the Wasserkrater shows that sensory stimuli can make the natural origins of the place once again perceptible. Here, place is made perceivable by creating a “super-natural” version of the natural origin of this landscape: an intensified and superior version of nature, no longer a pastoral escape or a mythical state of origin, but something embedded in history, culture and technology. By unveiling the identity of Bad Oeynhausen, the Wasserkrater can be seen as a first step in restructuring the suburban metropolis into an ensemble of specific places.
In Despoina Zavraka red. urban BLURCND Publications 2014 pp. 13-23.