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München „Isar-Plan“


Semi-natural riverside area in the inner city

Under the so-called “Isar-Plan”, the riverside area in the urban area of Munich will be altered in an area of 8km. This landscaping project provides for better flood prevention, increased closeness of the inner-urban riverside area to nature and more recreation areas for the urban population.


begradigter FlusslaufSource: Wasserwirtschaftsamt München

The river Isar had been regulated and forced into a canal-type bed with fortified embankments at the end of the 19th century. This had a negative impact on the river’s flow velocity, on current patterns and the temperature balance. About hundred years later, the development targets take the model of a semi-natural riverside area into account. The new concept includes a branched river Isar running through a broad ballast bed whose course changes after each flood. An important aspect helping to realise the concept is to increase the amount of residual water.

Project description

neues FlussbettSource: Wasserwirtschaftsamt München

Since 1995, an interdisciplinary working group including members of Munich city council and the local water authority has been developing a concept for restoring the Isar course in the southern inner city area of Munich to its natural state. The project takes relevant results of a comprehensive resident survey into account. The aim of the “Isar Plan” is to ensure flood protection, to create a more nature-oriented riverside area and to improve the recreational and leisure qualities of the river banks. Since 2000, the Plan has been realized by several construction stages.

During the first construction stage, the stony bank reinforcements have been dismantled between the municipal border at „ Großhesseloher Brücke” bridge and the Braunau railway bridge. The river bed has been broadened and filled with ballast. Concrete ground sills were replaced by loosened, rough ramps made of rocks. The upper riverside meadows were levelled or terraced, respectively, to make the course of the river accessible again in many places. This conversion of the riverside area was gradually continued to the inner city of Munich. The last stage began at the end of 2010 by altering the riverside area close to the Museum Island between the “large river Isar” (canal) and the “small river Isar” (natural river).

The flood protection was also improved as part of the renaturing measures. The river can now stretch until it reaches the ramps without causing any damage thus creating valuable bluffs in the outer curves. Furthermore, the Isar water quality is improved in the sewage plants via UV radiation in order to restore the bathing quality. This would significantly improve the leisure qualities besides developing new inner city green spaces for urban residents.

The total costs for implementing the “Isar-Plan” will amount to approx. 35 million euros, 45% being borne by the City of Munich and 55% by the Free State of Bavaria.

Project chronology

1995Interdisciplinary working group “Isar-Plan” started
2000-2002Construction stages 1-3
2002-20044th construction stage realised
Spring 2003Competition for 5th construction stage
2003-2004Works of competition participants, awarded with the 1st and 2nd prize, developed further
Autumn 2004Decision taken concerning 5th construction stage
20065th construction stage realised
20095th construction stage “Weideninsel” completed
2010Last construction stage started in the area of “Deutsches Museum”


neues SteiluferSource: Wasserwirtschaftsamt München

  • Improving the flood protection
  • Returning the riverside area into a near-natural state
  • Increasing the residual water volume
  • Restoring ecological functions
  • Improving the water quality
  • Upgrading the Isar river banks for leisure and recreation activities

Types of measures

neue KiesbänkeSource: Wasserwirtschaftsamt München

  • Installations to improve the flood protection
  • Broadening the river bed
  • Developing the river bank areas (low banks with gravel banks in front of them, returning them into a natural state and stabilising the dikes invisibly)
  • Design measures in the river (gravel islands, loosened ground sills, new flat block stone ramps)
  • Sterilising the treated wastewater in the sewage plants using UV light


neue FlusslandschaftSource: Wasserwirtschaftsamt München

The “Isar-Plan” project in Munich is a groundbreaking example showing how synergies can be created and proving the sustainable character of landscaping measures in cities. In doing so, a semi-natural riverside area is recovered, quality of life in a large city and flood protection are improved - an aspect of which city, nature and man may altogether benefit.

Essential factors of success were that urban and riverside area development aspects were taken into account and that a related cooperation across different disciplines and institutions was established. In this context, the City of Munich and the Federal State of Bavaria have combined and concentrated the necessary professional, personal and financial ressources in a target-oriented way.

The city council of Munich and the Munich water authority supported this ambitious project by continuously consulting the urban residents so that the project benefits including flood prevention, environmental protection, urban quality and quality of life could be communicated and the project’s acceptance be ensured.


  • Zinsser, Tilmann (2003): Neues Leben für die Isar. Mit dem Isar-Plan verfolgen die Stadt München und das Land Bayern ehrgeizige Ziele (New Life for the River Isar. The “Isar-Plan” Sets Ambitious Targets for Munich City Council and the Federal State of Bavaria). In: Garten + Landschaft, Heft 12, Dezember 2003, p. 12 et seq., s.l. (site map) (in German)
  • Lieckfeld, Claus-Peter (2003): Wie die zahme Isar wild und schön wird (How the Gentle River Isar Becomes Wild and Beautiful). In: Geo Special, Nr. 2, April/Mai 2003, p. 106 et seq., München (in German)
  • Zinsser, Tilmann (1999): Der Isar-Plan. Neues Leben für die Isar (The “Isar-Plan”. New Life for the River Isar). In: Infoblatt Nr. 3/99, Wasserwirtschaftsamt München. München (in German)

Further information

  • Binder, Walter; Hoelscher-Obermaier, Rudolph (2003): Die Wildflusslandschaft Isar (The Wild Riverside Area of the Isar). In: Garten + Landschaft, Heft 12, Dez. 2003, p. 16 et seq., s.l. (in German)
  • Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Landesentwicklung und Umweltfragen (ed.) (2003): Schutz vor Hochwasser in Bayern, Strategie und Beispiele (Flood Protection in Bavaria, Strategies and Examples). München (in German)
  • Bayerisches Landesamt für Wasserwirtschaft (ed.) (2001): Flusslandschaft Isar von der Landesgrenze bis Landshut. Leitbilder, Entwicklungsziele, Maßnahmenhinweise (The Isar Riverside Area from the Federal State Border to Landshut. Concepts, Development Objectives, Measures). München (in German)

The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 81379 - town: München - street: Am Isarkanal.

Poject site on Google-Maps: München Isar-Plan

Last update: 10.01.2018

Additional Information


  • Bayerisches Landesamt für Wasserwirtschaft München (Munich water authority), Mr. Tilmann Zinsser, Praterinsel 2, 80538 München, phone +49.(0)89.21233-135, fax -101, email:, web: (photos and plan)
  • Baureferat der Landeshauptstadt München (department for building of the city council of Munich) – Ingenieurbau – J3 – Wasserbau und Bauwerksunterhalt, Ms. Daniela Schaufuß, Friedensstr. 30, 81660 München, phone +49.(0)89.233-61426, email: daniela.schaufuß
  • Referat für Gesundheit und Umwelt der Landeshauptstadt München (department for health and the environment of the city council of Munich)

Record inserted on 01.05.2004 by Lehrstuhl für Planungstheorie und Stadtplanung, RWTH Aachen and updated by theFederal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).

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