Urban demolition measures by the river

Geisa „Ulster flood plain“



Image: Blick auf Geisa

Source: DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Frau Dr. Meißner

The small town of Geisa (approx. 4,700 inhabitants in 2013) is situated on a spur of rock between the Rivers Geis and Ulster. The old town was largely preserved and is still completely enclosed by the historic town wall. In former times, Geisa was situated close to the German-German border and partly even within the prohibited area of the GDR. Within sight distance of the town, the Point Alpha Foundation runs the memorial of the same name in a former observation ward. The Foundation has its headquarters in the former castle in the old town of Geisa. The memorial has approx. 120,000 visitors annually.

Due to the restoration of the flood plain between the historic old town and the River Ulster, the visitors of the memorial are able to reach the old town across the River. Before, an industrial plant of 1.4 hectares, which had been partly used as a building yard and formed a barrier between the old town and the northern new town on the RIver Ulster, was situated along this way. An attractive local holiday area for inhabitants and visitors is now being developed on this former brownfield site.


Project description

Image: Blick auf Geisa

Source: DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Frau Dr. Meißner

The overall urban master plan officially confirmed the abandonment of the industrial site, which is now becoming a green area linking up River and town. The area between town wall and River Ulster is thus available for new paths and sights. Instead of the industrial plant, the land along the river now develops as a natural and recreation area. Following the example of a historic river baths formerly situated farther east, a bathing site is being created on the River Ulster.

Apart from creating special water areas, a part of the hillside edge towards the old town, that had been cleared away for the industrial plant, is planned to be restored. The slag created in the context of the building measures is to be used for shaping the edge. The city council purchased the hillside plots in order to be able to reconstruct the historic orchards along the whole length of the hillside edge.

The new green and the water of the Ulster flood plain serve as starting points for developing the craftsmen district, that partially requires redevelopment. It has reached new "green" attractiveness as the relations and links towards the River Ulster were re-established.

With the whole project, the city council of Geisa won the regional competition “Genial zentral” (Ingenious centrality) in 2009, which also had an supporting effect when applying for funds. The project is managed by the city council of Geisa. The city council is supported by "DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft”, a large urban and site development company. The urban redevelopment and redesign activities of the flood plain were funded from urban development programmes of the German Federal Government and the federal states as well as of the European Union.


Project chronology

Year Event
2007/08 Master plan
2008 First prize in the context of the regional competition “Genial zentral” (Ingenious centrality)
2010-2012 New building yard created
2011-2013 Brownfield site cleared and contaminated sites remediated
2012 Competition: Restoring the flood plain to its natural state
2013-2014 Restoration of River Ulster flood plain to its natural state planned
2013-2014 Town wall refurbished
2013-2014 Castle grounds redesigned
2013-2014 Barrier-free access to old town across orchards realised


  • To restore the townscape
  • To create links and sight relations across the River Ulster
  • To improve recreational value and tourist activities
  • To give impetus to long-term stabilisation and growth effects
  • To preserve the old town as a residential location
  • To increase the experience of the River Ulster and its flood plain

Types of measures

Image: Ulsteraue

Source: DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Frau Dr. Meißner

  • Master plan and objectives for the urban redevelopment area
  • Urban development concept for parts of the old town
  • Design competition
  • To acquire land to outsource and construct the new building yard
  • To demolish an industrial plant
  • To restore the River Ulster flood plain to its natural state
  • To restore the “Mühlengaben” area
  • To create a swimming pond and a playground
  • Pedestrian bridge altered
  • To redesign the access from the Ulster area to the old town
  • To refurbish the town wall
  • To redevelop the castle grounds


Image: Ulsteraue

Source: DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, Frau Dr. Meißner

The city of Geisa creates an image for itself as an attractive place to live and work especially by re-establishing its links and relations to the surrounding nature area. This is why the city removes buildings from the riparian zone, reorganises the riparian zone as a nature and recreation area and restores parts of the historic outskirts of the city.

The long-term maintenance of the open spaces after reorganisation of the area had already been considered during earlier planning activities. This is why an association will attend the castle gardens in the future. The riparian zone is planned to be grazed cost-effectively.

The example of Geisa demonstrates the enormous potentials of urban areas becoming derelict and how site abandonment and restoring areas to nature may at the same time improve the environmental conditions and the quality of agriculture and urban planning.



  • Interview on 27 September 2010 with Martin Henkel, mayor of the city of Geisa, and Dr. Christine Meißner, DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft
  • Website on the BBSR study “Integrated waterfront development” >> more information

Further information

>> View larger map

The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 36419 - town: Geisa - street: Thüringische Rhön.



  • Stadtverwaltung Geisa (city council), Bürgermeister Martin Henkel (mayor), Marktplatz 27, 36419 Geisa, Germany, phone: +49 (0)3696 76 91 10, buergermeister@geisa.de
  • DSK Deutsche Stadt- und Grundstücksentwicklungsgesellschaft (urban and site development company), Dr. Christine Meißner, Postfach 2132, 99402 Weimar, Germany, phone: +49 (0)3643 54 14 24, christine.meissner@dsk-gmbh.de

Record inserted on 09.04.2014 by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).

Last update: 28.07.2014