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KulturCampus Frankfurt

Restructuring the Campus Bockenheim site

Urban development draft, University, Housing, Commerce
District: Local district:
2, 7
Size of area:
16.7 ha

Project description

Reason for planningThe existing university campus has been abandoned following the Goethe University’s relocation to its Westend and Riedberg campuses, where the majority of teaching activities now takes place.
The “Senckenberganlage/Bockenheimer Warte” development plan no. 569 lays the legal basis for the orderly urban development of the freed up real estate, which is immensely important for the district and the city. Not only does the new real estate enable reorganization of Frankfurt’s University of Music and Performing Arts, other cultural facilities and the Senckenberg Museum, but has great potential for residential and commercial usages, too.

Planning district
The site in question includes the erstwhile Bockenheim university campus along with the properties of Senckenbergische Gesellschaft. In close proximity to downtown, it is located in the Bockenheim and Westend districts, west of the city’s greenbelt (Senckenberganlage and Zeppelinallee). It is bounded by Sophienstrasse in the north and by Georg Voigt Strasse and the city’s trade fair complex in the south.
The total area covers four blocks and comprises approx. 16.7 hectares.

Planning objectives
The development plan lays the basis in planning law for the development of the KulturCampus Frankfurt that will be embedded in a new and vibrant urban quarter.
The intention: to create a mixed use structure of existing and new cultural facilities, residential and commercial buildings, retail, hospitality, infrastructures high-quality public spaces, with the new structures emulating the existing building fabric and the style of the neighboring quarters.
The idea behind KulturCampus Frankfurt is to spark synergies between the resident cultural institutions (Senckenbergische Gesellschaft and the various municipal theaters) and the newly planned facilities of the University of Music and Performing Arts as well as possible new cultural facilities.

Project progress
The cultural agreement concluded between the State of Hessen and the City in March 1999 laid the foundations for the relocation of Frankfurt’s Goethe University. In specifying the nature and density of the future buildings, the cultural plan doubled up as a masterplan for the urban development  on the former university campus in Bockenheim.
In 2003 the State of Hessen and the City of Frankfurt jointly hosted an international urban development competition.
The architects of the winning entry, K9 Architekten, Borgards - Lösch - Piribauer, Freiburg, were commissioned with detailed elaboration of a masterplan, which was presented to the public and the municipal committees in 2004.

In spring 2010 two feedback events for the citizens were held and the development plan further refined as a result. Soon after, in summer 2010, the decision to relocate the University of Music and Performing Arts to the Bockenheim site sparked the concept for KulturCampus Frankfurt. Another important step was the acquisition of large sections of the new quarter by AGB Frankfurt Holding in summer 2011.

The site’s development into a vibrant and culturally active mixed-usage district was advanced with the inclusion of local citizens in a series of workshops from November 2011 through March 2012, which saw excellent commitment and participation. The workshops produced a joint consensus plan that was subsequently assessed by experts and transformed into a structural plan in fall 2012. Ont his basis, a proposed development plan was drawn up and in spring 2014 went on public display. After considering all the comments submitted on it and following conclusion of a supplementary urban design contract the latter was forwarded to the political decision-making body in winter 2015-6 for a resolution to be taken.

ABG Frankfurt Holding intends to develop areas once occupied by the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University as general housing districts and as mixed-usage quarters to the extent that and as soon as the State of Hessen assigns ownership to ABG. Irrespective of this, other property companies have already commenced work developing the areas they themselves own. The student hall of residence on the grounds of the former Philosophicum building was completed in 2018; the development of the mixed-usage quarter with two high-rise locations on the former AfE grounds is already well advanced; and the construction of the Jewish Academy commenced in 2021. This implementation of the urban land-use plan will be presented on a new project page of its own on this Web site.

More information

Masterplan 2004/2010

Masterplan 2004

2004 masterplan, © K9 Architekten

The key element that structures the site from the Bockenheimer Depot to the Department of Pharmacology building (designed by Ferdinand Kramer and now listed as part of the city’s cultural heritage) is a green band that follows the line of the old Bockenheimer Landwehr, connecting the various quarters in a coherent fashion. The strip serves to create generously laid-out urban plazas and public parks, which will balance the shortfall of free spaces in the neighboring quarters.
The planning concept essentially envisages an urban quarter that offers a mixed-use structure for working, living, shopping, hospitality, and culture.
New residential quarters will be located in the southern part of Gräfstrasse and along the green strip, while the majority of commercial facilities will be on the busy thoroughfare that is Senckenberganlage.

The area around Bockenheimer Landstrasse is being assigned a new function as a district center, with stores and hospitality outlets grouped around Bockenheimer Warte rounding out the range of retail outlets on Leipziger Strasse.
Part of the city’s cultural heritage, the ensemble of the buildings between Mertonstrasse and Robert Mayer Strasse, will remain intact and continue to be open for public, cultural and scientific research activities.
A child-care facility with five groups will be provided in the south of the complex on Georg Voigt Strasse.

The height of the new buildings will in principle be harmonious and consistent, with the number of main stories emulating those in the neighborhood.
An exception is the high-rise complex that will be located in the south of Robert Mayer Strasse, which will replace the existing tower housing the Goethe University’s Social and Educational Sciences and forge a link with the existing group of high-rises around Ludwig Erhard Anlage.


Good access to the district in question is provided by roads and the public transport infrastructure already in place. The quarter is also linked to the regional transport network.
The new commercial blocks will primarily be entered via the existing main traffic arteries in a bid to curb the impact on the neighboring quarters in Bockenheim. The new residential developments will be predominantly accessed via Gräfstrasse.  
The planning concept envisages reserving the central green strip and the plazas between the blocks for pedestrians. This will result in an extensive car-free zone that improves the quality of the quarter considerably in the long term. 

Information events - 2010 Masterplan

Masterplan 2010, © K9 Architekten

Ample suggestions from citizens in the Bockenheim and Westend districts as well as the great interest shown in the status of planning prompted the City Planning Department to host two information events on the redesign of the erstwhile university campus complex in 2010.

The architects at K9 Architekten, the company that won the competition in 2004, revised the original masterplan on the back of the two meetings and the political decisions in relation to this matter.
The extensive minutes of the two events and the 2010 masterplan can be downloaded below as

Architectural heritage

The site’s architecture is defined by buildings from different architectural epochs. Bockenheimer Warte, a watchtower built in 1435 in the late Gothic style and now part of the city’s cultural heritage, marks the old border between the territories of the former Free City of Frankfurt and the Bockenheim administration.
The streetcar depot north of Bockenheimer Warte was built in 1899. Today the listed brick ensemble is used as theater.
The main university building and the Senckenberg Museum to the south of it were built in the early 20th century. Open arcades connect the museum building with the wings of the Frankfurt Physical Society and the erstwhile Senckenberg Library. One of Germany’s leading museums of natural history, the Senckenberg Museum is a cultural heritage site in the sense of the Hessen Historic Preservation Act.
Likewise erected at the beginning of the 20th century, the ensemble of villas in the south of the development is listed as a cultural heritage site.

With the exception of the students house conceived by architects Apel, Letocha, Roher and Herdt, all buildings erected between 1953 and 1965 were built under the direction of Ferdinand Kramer and are now part of the city’s cultural heritage. They include the Pharmaceutical Institute, the Department of Philosophy building, the hall of residence and the Municipal and University Library. The edifices form part of Ferdinand Kramer’s university campus concept, which is based on an orthogonal grid plan and inspired by the principle of the American campus. However, the concept was only partially realized.

None of the buildings erected after 1965 are listed as cultural heritage.

Photo of the old streetcar depot in Bockenheim, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

KulturCampus Frankfurt

This is where Frankfurt's future KulturCampus is going to be, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

The decision to relocate the University of Music and Performing Arts to the Bockenheim complex gave rise to a concept being developed for a full-fledged KulturCampus Frankfurt. In the future it will be a school for dancers, musicians and other cultural professionals. The idea is that complementary cultural facilities will make use of the new KulturCampus. In the students’ house, which is earmarked for preservation, an open venue is being established where citizens can engage in cultural and social interaction. Together with the existing facility of the municipal theaters that perform at the Bockenheimer Depot, the cultural campus will offer new synergies going forwards.

The local Naturforschende Senckenbergische Gesellschaft plans to expand its museum and research facility as an additional feature of KulturCampus
To find up-to-date information on the cultural campus along with opportunities to become involved simply visit the Kulturcampus Frankfurt homepage.

Acquisition of property by ABG Frankfurt Holding

Northwestern view of the campus, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

In summer 2011 on behalf of the City ABG Frankfurt Holding acquired large sections of the former Campus Bockenheim real estate from the State of Hessen, thereby ensuring that the land was transferred to the City of Frankfurt in an orderly fashion.
The purchase agreement was concluded with the intention of building an energy-efficient quarter that would be a model for others to follow, catering to the future need for combined functions of working, living and enjoying. The real estate purchased by ABG Holding is earmarked for the development of new apartments (on Gräfstrasse in the center of the site), for new buildings for cultural institutes already established in Frankfurt, and for offices in the section bordering on Senckenberganlage. Ample shopping opportunities and hospitality facilities will round out the offerings on Leipziger Straße.
“Our wish here is to provide residential space for everyone, offer cultural events for all and sundry, and create office space for a 21st-century working environment,” comments ABG CEO Frank Junker.

Start on Gräfstrasse

Blick von Süden auf die Wohnbebauung an der Gräfstraße, © Stadtplanungsamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Work on the new development commenced north of the former tram depot in 2012. The new quarter will initially feature some 200 apartments. The planning concept, which was selected on the basis of a design competition, foresees the construction of rental and owner-occupied apartments by ABG FRANKFURT HOLDING and GWH Gemeinnützige Wohnungsgesellschaft mbH Hessen to plans by architects Jens Happ, Stefan Forster and Karl Dudler. The residential complex will later be rounded out with retail and hospitality outlets with a café at ground floor level; these will face onto Gräfstrasse and Carlo Schmid Platz.


Planning workshops 2011/2012

Opening event on Nov.25, 2011, © Herwarth + Holz, Planung und Architektur

The further development of the KulturCampus Frankfurt was at the heart of the planning workshops, which were co-hosted by the City of Frankfurt and ABG Holding between November 2011 and 2012. All of the workshops (14 in total) were presented by Freischlad + Holz, Herwarth + Holz and AGL planning offices. In addition, a steering committee and a round table, which included citizens, politicians, the local consultative council, the Departments of Planning and Culture, ABG Frankfurt Holding and protagonists from cultural facilities, formed to guide and prepare the workshops.

The municipal authorities decided to initiate an extensive civil dialog in response to a wide array of suggestions made by the public, which translated into superb interest and commitment: On three weekends, some 350 participants overall joined the sessions to discuss key topics such as: Urban Development/ Monument Protection, Public Space/ Environmental Protection, Transport, Living and Culture and develop them creatively.

Each workshop kicked off with an update on the planning, which was supplemented with specialist information (workshop handbook) and a series of presentations on the matter at hand by experts, consultants and employees of the city administration.

Following plenary discussions the planning was presented and debated in detail in small moderated groups.
The official meetings were moreover complemented by working panels with a specific topic focus, which came together between the workshop weekends, and a number of interesting exchanges of citizens and representatives from administration and politics.

Once the key topics for the workshops were specified, participants began to formulate overarching guidelines for the Campus complex and debate a range of different urban scenarios.

The planners from Herwarth + Holz accompanied the workshops, which meant that the findings from each workshop could be continually implemented in the urban design concepts. This way, participants were able to see the immediate changes in the city fabric as a result of their suggestions. In the end, participants agreed on an urban planning concept that was favored by the majority.
The winning design was subsequently assessed for feasibility by way of illustration and model. The intention was to find a basic urban structure that would offer a wide spectrum of different uses and construction possibilities. 

Consensus-based plan

Opening event on Nov.25, 2011, © Herwarth + Holz, Planung und Architektur

The last workshop weekend was earmarked to formulate a plan that met with the agreement of all involved. An abstract representation of the results of the workshop, it forms the bedrock for the development of the quarter:
The site north of Bockenheimer Landstrasse has been earmarked for a large cultural complex that will include the University of Music and Performing Arts and the use of the theater at Bockenheimer Depot. From here along the old Jügelstrasse views are attracted by the entrance portal of the new, extended Senckenberg complex. Buildings on Jügelstrasse include, among others, the students house that will be preserved and extended into a cultural and social center. The idea is to establish additional cultural facilities along Jügelstrasse.

Essentially the wish is for a quarter that combines a wide range of uses. Nonetheless it is intended to erect the majority of new residential buildings in the quieter western section of the zone, while commercial areas have been earmarked along Senckenberganlage.

The erstwhile defense wall will be emulated in the form of a green avenue that opens out into parks in several places along the way to provide space for plants and recreational activities. These parks will be rounded out with several new pedestrian areas that will in due course be transformed into plazas and venues for cultural activities.

The topic of traffic was debated at length. Requests were expressed to curb the number of cars in the quarter and reduce Bockenheimer Landstrasse by one lane. On the other hand, it is important that the new offerings can be accessed and that existing traffic will flow smoothly.
Another topic of intense debate was the environmental and climatic impact of the planning. The idea of building an ecologically sound model district are being pursued further.
Moreover, requests for affordable residential space and living in residential communities were discussed, as was the preservation and conversion of existing buildings listed as cultural heritage.

Structural plan and legal zoning plan

Planungswerkstatt, © Herwarth + Holz, Planung und Architektur

After conclusion of the planning workshops the emphasis was on assessing whether the results could be realized. The documented results were forwarded to the policymakers. The City Planning Office for its part compiled a structural plan in summer 2012: as an interim step along the path to the legal site plan, here the wishes expressed in the consensus plan were transferred into regulations under planning law. The structural plan along with explanatory notes was presented to the Frankfurt City Council in report form and then presented to the general public in November 2012.
On the basis of the structural plan, in 2013 a proposal for the legal zoning plan was prepared.

This defines the type and scale of built usages, the real estate on which buildings can be constructed, public and private open spaces as well as traffic zones. Moreover, it provides details on trees to be preserved and planting, relationships between paths and car park spaces. An extensive explanation of the legal zoning plan is given along with an environmental impact study to outline the individual planning decisions involved.

The legal zoning plan proposal was made public in spring 2014. After weighing up all the statements received and concluding a supplementary Urban Planning Contract, the proposal was submitted to the relevant political bodies in the winter of 2015-6 for them to pass the resolutions required.

The www.kulturcampusfrankfurt.de website offers you comprehensive information on the progress and results of the planning workshops.