Plant House

Carsten Becker
Städtebau und Wohnungswesen

In times of increasing urban densification and urgent questions about sustainability, it is necessary to find a new way of dealing with obsolete urban infrastructure: Can a POWER PLANT be more than just an invisible energy supplier for its neighborhood and address the ecological and social challenges of urban densification in an exemplary way?

In many places, abandoned inner-city infrastructure areas are left to the real estate sector, which by converting them into luxury objects does not contribute to the vitality of the city. This project intends to deal with the question to what extent the demand for infrastructure and service has changed. Increasingly, it is not the quantity that is lacking, but rather sustainably generated energy, places to grow and exchange local products, and social spaces that can be flexibly used.

The coal-fired heating plant on Theresienstrasse once stood for cutting-edge technology and provided energy and heat for the rapidly growing Munich city in the 1960s. The location in the middle of the bustling Maxvorstadt was chosen to expand the steam supply radius of the existing heating network.

The cycle underlying the new use refers to both traditional technical aspects as well as sustainable ideas. Food waste is intended to be used in a biogas plant to generate sustainable energy to operate a 24/7 greenhouse. The harvest is meant to be sold at the own market, subsequentially processed in restaurants, closing the cycle.

Historically markets have always been places for trade and social exchange. Evolved from the forums of ancient Rome, it is an architectural typus whose key idea lies in its diversity of appropriation.

Starting from the idea of a flexible usable space, the market hall can house diverse activities in the very center of the building. After the end of a market day, it can be transformed into a cinema, or events can take place. The greenhouse itself uses the existing tower structure on 6 growing levels. Using the space-saving aeroponic cultivation method a harvest of about 100kg can be expected every day.

The new incorporation of the PLANT HOUSE building complex into everyday urban life can be seen as a reinterpretation of urban infrastructure. After decades of singular use as power plant, the proposed concept intends to create a symbiosis between the historic use and public space. Now the city is invited in to appropriate a long-lost potential.

view of the public courtyard
situation in the dense Maxvorstadt neighborhood
appearance of the new greenhouse tower
different functions find distinct spaces in the structure of the former power plant
glimpse into the flexible market hall
light weight expansion, here used as market stands