Redevelopment of the Central Pader Headwaters by

Public Landscapes / Public Landscapes / Germany / Built in 2019 /


Urban life and the special cultural and historical features of Paderborn’s city centre set the stage for the ‘Central Pader Headwaters’, a natural treasure that offers qualities such as biodiversity, an improved urban climate, ecological integrity and a wide range of local recreational opportunities. Building on these qualities while identifying shortcomings were the basic thoughts behind the concept for the Pader river landscape that serves as a starting point for the project. Based on the results of studying the urban and ecological landscape, the concept compiles a catalogue of measures, in which the redevelopment of the central Pader headwaters represents a major component in the improvement of the green spaces along the Pader river. The project concept pinpointed shortcomings in the investigated area, such as disused park spaces and plots of land, an unsightly delivery yard and the undersized, unimpressive forecourt to PaderHalle. Regulated watercourses whose banks were paved and poorly accessible as well as unattractive bicycle and pedestrian paths proved unappealing for use. The objective was to integrate urban wilderness into a legible urban design concept. The river landscape was to be further developed as a touristic, cultural, historical and ecological leitmotif that extends out from the city centre into the countryside. The project called for actions that were complex and interdisciplinary, which can be seen in its wide-ranging areas of focus, diverse stakeholders and the multiple sources of funding from disparate fields.


The built interventions include the redesign and renaturation of the inner-city springs that comprise the headwaters. The themes of protecting natural resources and species, and of biodiversity, climate adaptation/protection, community and health as well as the integration of this natural environment into the inner city, in terms of both design and function, were the essential guiding principles for all the steps of development and planning.

Individual areas such as the plaza in front of Paderhalle, the promenade along the Dielenpader, the Inselspitzweg, the new Haxthausen Garden and a newly-designed park entrance unite via the redevelopment into an unmistakable whole and enhance the urban realm in a diversified and contemporary way. By employing modest and deliberate interventions, the design mediates between the diverse urban particularities of the adjoining areas as well as between the still-legible past and the present.

In so doing, a neglected and fully built-up urban area has been transformed into a central, attractive natural biotope and living environment for residents and visitors, where the first business ventures such as cafés are already emerging. In a central location and within direct proximity, ecological demands are interlinked with issues relevant to urban development – thus enabling the project to fulfil contemporary needs for sustainable urban development in an exemplary manner. It is a model of how relatively small interventions can achieve sustainability and have a widespread positive impact. With its rigorous approach, the ‘small’ city of Paderborn has shown great political courage, especially since entire buildings had to be demolished to make way for this more coherent urban vision. The project demonstrates how a holistic concept along with a clear stance and open dialogue can bring about an excellent result that serves the common good.


The collaborative efforts involved many parties – traffic planners, hydraulic engineers, ecologists, city officials and residents as well as the open-space planners – and demanded from all a willingness to listen, learn and understand the concerns of one another without losing sight of the big picture. This approach and everyone’s willingness to engage in dialogue led to a strong and balanced overall concept. The close collaboration of all the specialist disciplines and the transparent handling of the project through public forums, regular site tours and the involvement of a design advisory board consisting of renowned outside experts led to a continuous and intensive review and differentiation of the design.
The desire to return the Pader to its natural state, which was developed through workshops with residents and others, led to the project’s guiding principle of creating an urban water wilderness for the Pader’s tributaries, their banks and the adjacent green areas. In order to more clearly highlight this place at the city’s centre and the historical use of the water by mills and craftspeople working in the area, the idea was born to contrast the gentle, curving forms of the watercourses and springs with hard, clear edges. Bringing these ideas together into a comprehensive image with a unified character was achieved through a very conscious use of materials and interventions. By doing so, the river landscape has been enhanced into a touristic, cultural, historical and ecological leitmotif that extends into the countryside.

Name of the project: Redevelopment of the Central Pader Headwaters, Paderborn (Germany)
Project category: Public Project
Role of the entrant in the project: Design and implementation of open-space planning (landscape architecture)
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: INROS Lackner, Bremen (general planning / project management)
Project location: Central Pader springs area and plaza in front of Paderhalle, Heiers Mauer 45, 33098 Paderborn (city center)
Design year: 2016 – 2017
Year Built: 2017 – 2019


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