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Air temperature: 76.82 (°F)
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Act. UV-Index: 0
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(Updated: 06/24/2024, 12:30,
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The significance of hillsides for Stuttgart's urban climate in due consideration of the hillside development
Diploma thesis by Christine Fenn (2005)

Download: Diploma thesis as a PDF-file (26 MB!)


Its landform is decisive for the living conditions in the region of Stuttgart. Big altitude differences on a small space and a marked topography are the result of geological formations and the erosion power of the surface waters continually forms the landscape. Stuttgart's city centre lies in the Nesenbach valley and is almost completely surrounded by mountain ranges of up to 240 m from the valley bottom.

Intense land use and man-made sealing measures cause among other things heat and pollutant emissions.
The climatic situation in the built-up city basin is relieved by the cooler and often unpolluted cold-air flows from the more elevated and undeveloped areas, whose formation is facilitated by the topographic situation. The valley wind of the Nesenbach valley is the main source of aeration. Local downslope winds, i.e. the downhill flows of cold air from the basin borders, have become more and more important due to the city's distinct overheating and increasing development. Stuttgart's hillsides function as both cold-air flow channels and balancing areas as the percentage of unsealed open land is relatively high.

Stuttgart's history reveals that its climatic situation has been difficult since the 17th century. Development and constructional measures on the hillsides started in the 19th century and was restricted by special urban development principles. Development was brought into line with the landscape by limiting the height of the buildings and by defining clearances and construction ban areas. This has allowed for the typical green character of Stuttgart's elevated outskirts until today.

The current land use plan also contains the goal of preserving the characteristic development of detached houses, which is expressed in the plan as a combination of housing and other green spaces. As the binding urban land use plan is still based on principles from 1935, decisions in individual building projects lead to increased infill development on the hillsides. The consequences are negative implications for cityscape and landscape, the loss of high-quality residential areas and inner city recreation areas as well as the increasing decimation of the important climatic balancing effect of the hillsides on the whole city basin.
Climatic aspects possess several legal protection instruments within planning. The Building Code provides for a subordinate consideration of the implications of all planning decisions for the whole city region by requiring a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment. A framework plan as informal instrument could contain the future development of Stuttgart's hillsides. Detailed arrangements for the optimization of climatically affected areas or the conservation of precious stocks on the level of binding urban land use planning are presented in the Building Code and Baden-Württemberg's Federal Nature Conservation Act.

Compared with other German cities, Stuttgart can resort to detailed basic research on climatic aspects, which, however, has to be implemented systematically in the field of constructional development. Experiences in cities like Freiburg and Trier show that the inhabitants are clearly interested in and sensitive towards climatic concerns. Pilot schemes for a climatically sensitive use of hillsides are not available except for a passive house estate in Ulm.

A detailed consideration of the individual hillside sectors of Stuttgart's city basin reveals that clefts are the major local cold-air flow channels with a balancing thermal effect on the foot of the hillsides and the adjacent valley bottom. What is also determined are hillsides which have been thermally polluted themselves due to dense development and insufficient catchment areas consisting of undeveloped surfaces.
In order to preserve the major climatic functions of Stuttgart's hillsides for the whole city region, overheating must be prevented and the cold-air flow in clefts must be optimized through adequate measures. In this respect urban climatic goals usually go hand in hand with the urban development defined in the local building statute.

It became clear that decisions on the future development of the hillsides cannot only be based on the individual case but on the combined effect of all building measures. An urban development framework plan for the hillsides can combine and locate the individual functions and therefore formulate the development goals for the whole territory.

Download: Diploma thesis as a PDF-file (26 MB!)


© City of Stuttgart, Office for Environmental Protection, Section of Urban Climatology