Connection of industry and garden culturestoryCarl Franz Bally, the founder of the Bally shoe factories, began in 1868 with the melioration of the swamp Schönenwerder Schachenlandes between the railway line Olten - Aarau and the Aare. On the newly acquired land, he first built a commercial channel, which ensured the drive of the company's own power plant. Subsequently, he had a first park created between this canal and the railway line, which was intended as a recreational area for the working class and the public. Bally skillfully combined the recreational space necessary for a satisfied workforce with the equally necessary industrial use of the terrain. The park was part of a typical industrial landscape of the 19th century, consisting of factories, factory villa, workers' houses, warehouses, social facilities (Kosthaus) and recreational areas (park).
Twenty years later, 1888 - 1890, another alluvial soil could be drained on the train of the Aare correction and made usable for the company. Bally then had the existing park expanded by reshaping the smaller of the two branches into a system of ponds, designing the area with carefully planted vegetation and setting up various parking structures. With these stylistic means of the landscape garden, he created an artificially arranged, harmonious natural landscape, which is still preserved today in large parts.
After the turn of the century, the influence of the then fashionable architectural garden became apparent. After more profound transformation plans had soon but smashed, took place finally in 1919, the establishment of the Kosthauses according to plans by Karl Moser in the middle of the park. In order to alleviate the transition from this monumental architecture to the landscaped park, the Kosthaus was preceded by a semicircular parterre. As an eastern park, both elements set important accents today.
After decades of wild growth and neglect - in 1976 the dilapidated chapel had to be cleared away - it had been started to repair the park in small steps and with modest financial resources since the 1990s. In 2001 this was taken over by the residents and citizens of Schönenwerd, Gretzenbach and Niedergösgen. Since then, thanks to the commitment of all those involved, the facility has been restored to a level where the basic principles are once again clearly defined and easily experienced, making Bally Park a popular attraction far beyond the region.
The Bally Park as a garden monument
As was the case with the first park in 1868, the main feature of the complex, extended from 1888 to 1890, was the type of English landscape garden that originated in England in the eighteenth century and spread throughout Europe for nearly two hundred years. In addition to the newly created ponds, the main elements of the design of the Bally Park included the creation of a network of curved paths, the creation of garden architecture (an exotic pavilion, a chapel, a grotto, a post-construction station and a reservoir from the Gränichen region of Aargau) the use of exotic plants brought by members of the Bally family from their travels around the world.
With these elements, an artificial landscape was created that worked according to very specific principles. So it was primarily about the garden visitors on his park tour deliberately designed images to convey. The various park buildings were part of these landscapes, in contrast to the Baroque garden uncut trees and shrubs served as a framing or background and the ponds as a mirror surfaces for architecture, planting and sky. Due to the nature of the planting areas of different character, which should put the viewer in certain moods: Wide, open meadow areas with light birch conveyed the feeling of joy and lightness; the dark, forest-like woodland areas were more for mourning (chapel!) and melancholy. The pile construction station was of particular importance. It not only served to create a mood, but was also a teaching element in the garden, because its design corresponded to the latest state of research at the time. By means of consciously applied sightlines it was also possible to include images outside the actual park, whereby the system appeared visually larger than it actually was. Such eye-catchers were for example the former castle ruins Niedergösgen (today castle church), the Schlössli in the rock garden or the steeples of Gretzenbach and Schönenwerd.
The Bally Park is a late, but beautifully designed and well-preserved example of an English-style landscape garden, combined with ideas of the geometric architecture garden in the area of the Kosthaus. As part of the Schönenwerder "industrial landscape", the park is one of the most important of its kind in Switzerland. Park and Kosthaus are under cantonal conservation.Stefan Blank
January 25, 2017
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