Lorberg pines for the Federal Intelligence Service


Lorberg pines for the Federal Intelligence Service

03Feb 2016



A commission for the Federal Intelligence Service (the German BND) is quite special: We're not only accompanied by various architects and landscape planners, but we're also – on a certain level – working for the secret service. There's a little bit of pride and a little bit of curiosity that go along with the certain security measures that accompany the project. Added to that is the public interest in building plans of the state – particularly in Berlin. The details of the project are as follows:

Lorberg delivers fully grown pines to the new BND headquarters in Berlin

The construction of the new BND headquarters on Chausseestraße in Berlin began in 2006, with Kleihues + Kleihues Architects (main building), Henn Architects (north building) and Lehmann Architects (south building) having been awarded the building contract. In 2016 the new headquarters will become active, and construction will be fully completed by the year 2018.

The greenery concept for BND headquarters was developed by the office of "Landschaft planen und bauen” (Landscape Planning and Building). To implement their plans, the Lorberg Tree Nursery is delivering fully-grown pines (up to 20 metres tall), which will provide a regional pine grove in front of the main building. We made our initial delivery of 20 pines in 2013 and another 15 followed in 2015.

By 2018 the „forest of spies” will comprise 60 pines

The visually impressive trees from our nursery will complete the overall look of the building, and also soften its appearance.
We talked to CEO Stefan Lorberg about the challenges of the project, the approach used, and his personal take on the BND greenery.

Stefan Lorberg in Interview

Mr. Lorberg, as a tree nursery you must have a very special product range to be able to realise a project like that. How should we imagine the planning involved in providing giant trees like these?

Stefan Lorberg: We began to focus on cultivating XXL trees decades ago, in fact with a particular focus on just such a regional pine grove as we're putting in place here.
We've made a name for ourselves with going in this direction - and of course also with the work we've put in. A lot of planners highly value our range for just this kind of thing - using these trees gives them scope to set up really special landscape designs.

We can also advise developers and planners as needed, as to which trees best fit to a particular location.

Were there any particular security measures in terms of accessing the site and planting, which you're allowed to tell us about?

Stefan Lorberg: Yes, there were. To access the building site both our workers and management had to be registered with their passport numbers at least four weeks beforehand. These then had to undergo a security check, and only after they had cleared the security check could they go onto the site.

And photographing anything is of course also strictly forbidden. For our professional photos of the roots and the like we had to have the photo files checked and cleared before we could take the photos with us.

How long does it take to grow a pine that's between 15 and 20 metres?

Stefan Lorberg: These pines are now between 45 and 50 years old.

And how does replanting such a large tree work? Which preconditions have to be fulfilled? Are there also risks?

Stefan Lorberg: The basic preconditions for a good, successful replanting is having a great many fibrous and absorbent roots at the extremity of the root ball.
So we regularly replant the trees as we grow them, and cut the roots every 4-5 years. In this way we make sure that the roots don't grow too thick. The fine roots which are needed for the provision of water and nutrients then continue to be present in sufficient numbers.
If you do everything right in terms of planting and upkeep of the tree, the risk of it not continuing to grow are reduced to pretty much zero.

To finish with, a personal question: With getting involved in a project with the secret service, did classic secret agent pictures spring to your mind?

Stefan Lorberg: In the end there was nothing that was so terribly exciting. The security checks to access the site were somewhat more extreme than you might get when boarding an international flight. But we didn't see any agent swaps going down. ;-)

Thanks a lot for the interview!