Visitor Center for the Bioreserve Black Forest // Hanna Pasche

Key Info

Basic Information

Hanna Pasche
Master of Science
Jan Michel Hintzen
Prof. Hartwig Schneider
Prof. Uwe Schröder
Chair for Building Construction

A Meeting Place in Todtnau


The Black Forest Biosphere Reserve, with its 63,000 hectares, is located in the southern part of the Black Forest. It comprises three administrative districts and 29 municipalities, including the municipality of Todtnau. The biosphere reserve was designated in 2016 under Baden-Württemberg's state law and was recognised by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in June 2017, making it an international model region for sustainable development.
The planned centre is intended to convey the theme of the biosphere reserve to visitors. The key themes of the biosphere reserve should also be reflected in the architecture. The building should present itself through sustainable and climate-neutral construction. Topics such as sustainability or regenerable building materials are the focus of the design. Apart from the theme of the biosphere reserve, local traditions should also influence the design. The traditional building style of the Black Forest House is an important element for the harmony of the landscape and should be reflected in the planned visitor centre.


The small town of Todtnau is located in the southern Black Forest and belongs to the district of Lörrach. Nestled between Feldberg and Belchen, two of the highest mountains in the Black Forest, the town extends over 10 incorporated urban areas in the Wiesental. At an altitude between 600 and 13986 metres above sea level, a large part of the town is located in the forest.
Todtnau will have a new attraction with the planned visitor centre in the heart of the town area. The visitor centre will provide tourists and locals alike with a starting point for walks and other activities in the surrounding area and will create an information point that will give visitors a better understanding of their surroundings at various levels.


Visitors from Schwarzwaldstraße are welcomed by a spacious forecourt. The distant effect is reminiscent of the familiar silhouette of the Black Forest with its historic farms. An ensemble of two equally sized buildings with two mighty hipped roofs. Like an addition to the town, the two cubes follow the alignment of the existing buildings. The tilting of the buildings creates an interesting square in interaction with the town hall. The square is divided into two areas, which are connected by a few steps.

In the distant effect, two mighty wooden buildings will stand in the upper Wiesental. On closer inspection, contemporary details, transparency and subtleties can be seen. The roofs are covered with wooden shingles, the facades with narrow wooden slats. The roof overhang of the mighty hipped roofs serves as natural sun protection.

The visitor centre takes the large form of the Schwarzwaldhof in a contemporary manner and blends harmoniously into the urban context of the site and the landscape. Traditional materials are carefully used and translated into a modern design language.
Clear structures, open spaces, traditional and landscape-typical materials complement each other to continue the regional typology into the present.


The regionally preferred building material wood can be found again from the supporting structure to the detailed execution. Silver fir from local forests characterises both the façade and the interior. Lift shaft, doors, ceilings, walls and floors are made of silver fir, which has been processed in different ways. The use of wood as a constructive and building element in the architecture of the new visitor centre is part of the image of the Black Forest.

The facade takes up the horizontal division of the wooden shingles and reminds with the horizontal wooden profiles and the vertical subdivision of the traditional stud-board construction. The insulation is made with wood fibre boards to continue the use of natural materials.

The art of timber construction should be experienced in a new way at this point. The traditional as well as the modern processing of the raw material and its transformation into an open and contemporary architectural language are the themes of a visitor centre full of character for the Black Forest biosphere region.

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