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Urban development draft, Offices, Commerce, Housing
District: Completed:

Project description

Reason for planning
When the main freight station and its switching yard was vacated it provided the City of Frankfurt with a prime downtown brownfield site; whereas the railroad facility had hitherto divided the area, the new urban development is destined to connect the surrounding districts. Immediately adjacent to Frankfurt’s trade fair complex, it created a unique opportunity for the much needed expansion of the former.
The development of this downtown brownfield site is firmly in line with the goals of sustainable urban planning, i.e. , the prioritization of inner-city development over the use of hitherto undeveloped zones on the outskirts.

Development district
The zone in question is located west of downtown Frankfurt between the Bockenheim and Gallus districts.
The scope of the three development plans, which include the future Europaviertel and the entire trade fair complex, spans a total of 145 hectares, 100 hectares of which was previously used by the railroad. 

Planning objectives
The central planning objectives include the conversion of the brownfield sites that were formerly used by the main freight station and switching yard into an attractive mixed-use city district. Approval from the planning authorities for the Frankfurt Messe grounds also needs to be secured.
The intention behind rezoning the abandoned sites is to exploit the downtown location which offers great development potential to house up to 30,000 high-quality jobs and around 3,500 apartments all located within easy reach of the city center. Moreover, Messe Frankfurt is to be given land for urgently needed expansion at its downtown complex. In addition, generously dimensioned green zones in the western section of the quarter will provide recreational facilities for the residents of the adjacent districts and improve connections within the urban fabric.

Project progress
Planning for Frankfurt’s Europaviertel district commenced just under 12 years ago, and since then the resolutions for the establishment of three development plans have been passed. Development plan no. 556 “Messeviertel/ Hemmerichsweg” for the Europaviertel’s eastern part was made legally binding in May 2001. Development plan no. 826 “Europaviertel West – Teilbereich 1”, which covers the western trade fair complex and the site of Deutsche Bahn’s former railroad repair workshop on Idsteiner Straße, was made legally binding in February 2008. While the third development plan, no. 850 – “Europaviertel West - Teilbereich 2” is intended for those areas which ceased to be used for the railroad at a later date. It came into effect in July 2010.
All these development plans are governed by an overall masterplan, which has been continually calibrated and upgraded since its first publication in 2000.

More information

Planning history

Main freight station 1959, © Institut für Stadtgeschichte Stadt Frankfurt am Main

History of the area
The construction of the freight station and switching yard in the second half of the 19th century was an important factor driving the development of the area at the time. Adjoining it to the north, the Frankfurt trade fair complex was laid out around the Festhalle, which was the event venue. North of the shunting yard the Kuhwald dwellings were built, and in the south the turn-of-the-century urban design of Gallus. Between 1929 and 1930 the Hellerhof dwellings were erected on Frankenallee and Idsteiner Strasse on behalf of Hellerhof AG, the planning directed by the architect Mart Stam.


Planning history
In connection with the first stage of the privatization of the German railroads (Deutsche Bahn) in 1994, the successor companies developed an increasing interest in an economically meaningful use of areas that were not necessarily needed for railroad operations. On the back of the ideas proposed by the planners at Hamburg’s gmp for a “renaissance of stations”, which were specified in a study for Frankfurt/Main (Frankfurt 21), urban planners first began focusing on the land previously used for the freight station and the main station’s railroad tracks.
Whereas the conversion of the main station’s tracks was not pursued any further on account of the considerable financial outlay, the conversion of the main freight station could be advanced, as in this case the entire site was being given up.
Based on a design by the AS&P planning team, the owners and the City of Frankfurt devised a framework plan, which was adopted following a resolution passed by the assembly of city councilors in the year 2000. With regard to the future use of the approx. 100 hectares of abandoned railroad land, the concept in the framework plan envisaged 25 % residential, 25 % greenery 25 % extension to the trade fair grounds, and 25 % mixed usage and core area.


Main freight station 1997, © Stadtvermessungsamt Frankfurt am Main

Planning history – the east of the Europaviertel district
Operations at the main freight station ceased in 1998. As a result, the land (east of Emser Bridge) could be swiftly decommissioned and thus come under the planning authority of the City of Frankfurt. As such, as early as March 2001 development plan no. 556 “Messeviertel / Hemmerichsweg” was passed as a resolution. Hall 3 at the trade fair complex, the “Neue Dependance” and the Mövenpick Hotel were the first edifices to be built here. In 2006-7 building activity increased considerably and in the meantime large areas of the planning zone have already been developed. For the most part, the development work for expanding the eastern section of Europaallee has already been concluded.

Switching yard 2000, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Planning history – the west of the Europaviertel district
Despite the freight station having been vacated, the switching yard (west of Emser Bridge) continued to operate and until mid-2005 was used for though journeys. Here again the dismantling of the railroad facilities has been concluded and a large part of the development facility is already in place. With development plans no. 826 “Europaviertel West - Teilbereich 1” and no. 850 “Europaviertel West - Teilbereich 2” now legally binding, the requisite planning rights covering the entire western section of the Europaviertel district for converting the former switching yard into a new mixed-usage, urban district are now in force.

Master planning

Beginning of the master planning
The master plan for the Europaviertel district forms the main basis for advanced planning such as building and development plans. In 1999 and 2000 the owners and the City of Frankfurt agreed for the first time on a master plan which presented the planned development system and the resultant areas earmarked for construction and greenery. This framework was adopted by a resolution passed in 2000 by the City Council and formed the basis of a corresponding change to the land zoning plan compiled by “Umlandverband Frankfurt”.

1999 master plan, © AS&P Frankfurt am Main

Realization of the master plan by 2003
In 2002 a construction competition was held for the western residential quarter, in which the Stuttgart company h4a emerged the winners. In May 2003 a revised and in its entirety more specific master plan was presented to the public as part of a citizens’ participation process.
An 800-meter long road tunnel for Europaallee, which would be privately financed, was a fundamental feature of the plans. On account of increased safety requirements for this type of structure, and the associated approx. 40 % increase in costs, financing on this scale, and as such the realization of the proposed plans was no longer a viable option.
This resulted in the urban development concept that had hitherto been pursued having to be completely revised. In addition, with Deutsche Bahn AG having decided in the meantime to continue using the switching yard until 2010, there were also changes to the schedule for implementing the plans. These constraints necessitated the step-by-step development of the west of the Europaviertel district.

2003 master plan, © AS&P Frankfurt am Main

Revision of the master plan in 2004
From January until June 2004 the master plan for the west of the Europaviertel district was revised as part of a test planning procedure. To this end the owners asked the companies h4a, Stuttgart and AS&P, Frankfurt/Main, as well as the Frankfurt/Main City Planning Department to produce new ideas for the west of the Europaviertel district, whereby the brief was that these should fulfill the new financial conditions more effectively. h4a, which in 2002 had won the competition for the Europaviertel West residential district, and the City Planning Department had almost exactly the same planning approach. This was fine-tuned in close collaboration with the owners and the city. In September 2004, again with the early participation of the public, the latter was presented with the revised master plan.

The master plan concept
The 60-meter-wide, tree-lined Europaallee, which comes from the east of the Europaviertel district and also structures the western planning area, is the backbone of the plans. To the north and south the boulevard-like road is bordered by a continuous seven-storey perimeter block development. That to the north also serves to mark the built perimeter of the expansion of the trade fair complex, this better integrating the large trade fair halls in the urban space. Design-wise, Europaallee is to be uniform in character from its beginning on Güterplatz to its end at the intersection with Am Römerhof.
In the middle of the western planning area Europaallee disappears into a tunnel for a 400-meter stretch. The “Europa Gardens”, which is about six hectares in size and aligned in an east-west direction, will be laid out above the tunnel; it is due to be opened in June 2011. Two expanses of greenery, each approx. 60 m wide and 170 m long, link the park on the one hand in the south with Gallus, and on the other in the north with Rebstock Park, and fill the gap in the greenery stretching from downtown to the recreational area along the River Nidda. In 2008 a landscaping competition was held for the “Europa Garden”, which was won by the Berlin company relais - Landschaftsarchitekten.
Around the park there are plans for four residential quarters with a total of approx. 2,000 units. This particular form of usage will only be possible through construction of the road tunnel and in the west through commercial premises along the boulevard, as these will shelter the general residential areas from the noise of the traffic on Europaallee.
To the northwest of the “Europa Gardens” there are plans for a new elementary school for the Europaviertel district, which will be easy to reach from the new residential districts. Five locations for new nurseries are envisaged for the four large housing sections. In future, public access will be via a subway with four stops running parallel to Europaallee.

2005 master plan, © AS&P Frankfurt am Main