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schneider+schumacher

Planners

Photo of the model, © schneider+schumacher Architektengesellschaft mbH, Frankfurt/lad+I landschaftsarchitektur, Hannover/BPR Beraten Planen Realisieren, Darmstadt

The following text describes the competition entry submitted by the planners at schneider+schumacher architects.
It forms the basis for the company being awarded the contract for the preliminary planning for the current planning zone.

Architects
schneider+schumacher Architekturgesellschaft mbH
Niddastraße 91
60329 Frankfurt/Main

Project team: Karlo Filipovic, Sven Müller, Daniel Wiedenkeller, Christina Barzen, Vita Redliha, Peter Knörr

Landscape architects
lad+ landschaftsarchitektur diekmann
Seestraße 12
30171 Hanover

Project team: Sabine Rabe, Binnca Däwes, Christine Sack

Engineers (traffic planning)
BPR Bernd F. Kühne & Partner
Elisabethenstraße 62
64283 Darmstadt


The planner’s central design concept

Perspectival view of the forecourt, © schneider+schumacher Architektengesellschaft mbH, Frankfurt/lad+I landschaftsarchitektur, Hannover/BPR Beraten Planen Realisieren, Darmstadt

“Our objective is to revitalize the station forecourt’s form and significance within the urban fabric. The architectural dimension of the station and its forecourt will serve to reflect their significance and function. (...) Together with the forecourt it [the station] creates the city’s first impression for train passengers – the “Gateway to the City”. The station’s mixed-use neighborhood therefore calls for a solution that will give the location a characteristic appeal and is readily comprehensible.”


Explanations on the proposal

Layout (not to scale), © schneider+schumacher Architektengesellschaft mbH, Frankfurt/lad+I landschaftsarchitektur, Hannover/BPR Beraten Planen Realisieren, Darmstadt

The revised proposal for the central station forecourt

The area in front of the station building will be kept almost entirely free, providing ample space for special activities such as market days or other such events, not to forget the outdoor eateries in front of the building. Only the streetcar stop will be positioned in the northern section of the square in the style of its original historical position. Differently sized and randomly arranged granite tiles from the Odenwald forest in differing color shades and interspersed with LED tiles will define the surface material and create the forecourt’s overall look.
The plaza will be illuminated by lamppost luminaires along the road and streetcar lanes; luminous tiles and façade lighting will provide decorative effects.
A water feature composed of several fountains will embellish the southern section of the central forecourt between the streetcar tracks and “Straße Am Hauptbahnhof”. The plan is to preserve the grove on the southern edge of the forecourt.
The sidewalk on the city side will be widened and lined with trees in an effort to create a promenade overlooking the plaza and outdoor eateries.
The proposal also envisaged the two forecourts on either side of the train station being accessible for car traffic from the west only and no longer connected to “Straße Am Hauptbahnhof”. As a result the side entrances to the concourse will have their own, mostly traffic-free plazas. Sufficient bicycle racks will be provided close to the side entrances.

 

Changes made to the competition entry / revised proposal:

The essential changes in the revised proposal compared to the competition entry are:

  • The streetcar stop in the center of the forecourt should be slightly removed from the station building. The width of the track lane will be reduced by locating the stops on the side and not having a central platform.
  • The planned patios in front of the main building will be replaced with ground-level hospitality facilities.
  • The skylights on the B level will be replaced with LED tiles integrated in the surface of the plaza; skylights remain as an option.

 

Excerpt from the jury’s verdict

(The jury’s verdict below is on the original competition entry)

“What makes this proposal stand out is the idea to separate Poststraße and Mannheimer Straße and thus create a generous plaza that will provide easy pedestrian access to and from the building with ample directions to roam in. At the same time, the intention is to emphasize the prominent building and its three entrances. The plaza will be effectively structured into different sections: a hospitality zone and an open space designed to host temporary events. A point of criticism here is the elevated terrace – having different levels seems problematic for reasons of logistics and monument preservation. That said, the jury expressly welcomes and supports the clear zoning and allocation of areas (hospitality, space for ideas). However, the plaza’s generous overall structure means that a number of traffic requirements cannot be sufficiently met. There are no barrier-free parking spaces and no taxi pull-ups designated on the central square, the taxi queuing areas specified are too small. The majority of short-term parking spaces will be located in the planned car parks, although there is no guarantee the latter will be realized.
In this context the jury is debating whether these shortcomings can be improved in line with specifications if they are addressed in detail; moreover it needs to be ascertained whether relocating the entrance to the underground car park in the northern section is indeed feasible both as regards traffic and costs. It remains questionable whether rerouting will not cause extra traffic with drivers trying to find their way around or whether an intelligent traffic guide system could in fact prevent this. The idea of using iridescent paving materials and introducing transparent areas for the illumination of the B level below is a moot point. The arguments that a grainy structure would reflect Frankfurt’s modern urban image and create a unique and memorable identity in connection with the lighting concept are countered by the unproven claim that these surfaces, both as regards installation and maintenance, are too expensive to finance. The idea of enhancing the B level’s ambience and conceptually linking it with the cityscape by means of lighting elements that are above and below the ground is regarded as unfeasible by some members of the jury as it would impede unrestrained use of the lower level. For the city level proof needs to be furnished that the luminaires are glare-free and commensurate with all security requirements.
Overall, this is a radical and very powerful approach that will certainly stir emotions during the assessment stage and will have a positive impact on people when embedded in the urban fabric. Its symbolism has the power to transform the location into a very special place while constantly changing embellishments would live up to the claim of creating a metropolitan, urban stage.”