Steveraue Platform, Germany

Source: Jonas Büchel.


Bureau Baubotanik

Type of Area

Medium-sized river with natural banks

Land/water interaction

Flood plains

Built Environment Types

Low built
High green

Scale of Impact

District/ neighbourhood

Intervention Scale (Spatial)

Small site

Project Types

Small-scale intervention – educational

Urban/ Rural

Urban periphery

Visibility and Openness

Partly open
Partly enclosed

A Living Structure 

Steveraue is a nature reserve sited in a former coal mining area near the town of Olfen in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. The aim of this project, developed by Bureau Baubotanik in 2010 and still continues its development, was to build an observation platform for viewing the wildlife of the reserve without entering and disturbing it, since it is a protected area. From the platform it is possible to see a stork’s nest and the semi-wild herds of Heck cattle and Konik ponies.

The observation platform and the recreational areas around it is separated from the nature reserve but made to observe the wildlife in Steveraue and is connected to local hiking and provides access to the river. The platform is built on a natural floodplain area next to the river Stever so it is also possible to view the wildlife within this natural riparian environment.

One of the most interesting aspects of the project is that it uses an innovative construction method. The platform is constructed around an internal metal structure and live willow trees (Salixspp), which commonly grow in this wet area, have been planted around it. This botanical structure will develop over time as the trees grow around and through the metalwork creating a self-sustaining and living structure. Landscape changes are slow and not often perceptible to the human eye, so the aim of the structure is to make the long-term growing processes of the renaturation of the Steveraue reserve visible and tangible.

The ingrowing structure has also an educational purpose to showcase the actual construction method – a growing botanical structure. As well as being able to observe nature it is possible to enjoy the river environment, as there is opportunity for picnics on the benches provided and there is a floating pontoon that allows access to the river itself.

Perception and Meaning

Focal point
Genius loci

Health and Wellbeing

Better environmental perception

Interaction with Water