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Designing the Dreikönigskirche square and illuminations

Public space, Illumination concept
District: Local district:
Size of area:
about 4,900 square meters
Project management:

Ms. Maike Wollmann
fone: +49 (0)69 212 35856

Project description

Reason for planning
In functional and design terms the surroundings of the heritage-listed Dreikönigkirche have suffered from neglect. The setting no longer does justice to its prominent location within the urban fabric on the south bank of the Main river directly across the water from the cathedral. The Dreikönigskirche is currently being renovated in line with heritage requirements.

The measures to redesign the square and illuminate the church are destined to round out the project by upgrading the surroundings in functional and design terms. In this way, the important monument will once again be appropriately represented in the city’s night-time silhouette. Moreover, the plan is to provide barrier-free access to the Neo-Gothic church, which to date has had no ground-level entrance. This will be achieved as part of redesigning the square. 

Planning area
The Dreikönigskirche is located on the south bank of the Main river, directly adjacent to the Alt-Sachsenhausen quarter. The square round Dreikönigskirche is abutted on the north side by the three-lane Sachsenhäuser Ufer riverside road, to the south by Färberstrasse and to the east by Oppenheimer Strasse. In the immediate vicinity, in the west Eiserner Steg provides a footbridge across the river to downtown.
Dreikönigskirche functions in the urban fabric as an interface between the Museumsufer section of the riverside, the Alt-Sachsenhausen quarter, and the historical old town center around the cathedral and Römerberg.

Planning objectives
Upgrading the church’s surrounds in design and functional terms
The objective is to strengthen the existing setting, with its special position in the urban fabric. To this end, the public area of the Dreikönigskirche square will be redesigned and given a new function. The focus is on factoring in the surrounding’s functional requirements and the historical significance of Dreikönigskirche.

Restructuring the square in line with heritage requirements

The measures to design the square are destined to support and round out the ongoing renovation of Dreikönigskirche. The intention as regards the design is to create a uniform ensemble at this special location. The historical shape of the square will be underscored by supplementing the existing sandstone wall. A uniform church forecourt will be created by means of uniform natural stone covering to replace those parts that are currently asphalted. Moreover, to the same end the striking semi-circle with the six plane trees in front of the west portal will be enhanced. The Dreikönigsbrunnen fountain at the southeast end of the square will be revitalized using new fountain technology and thus integrated into the new overall urban ensemble.

Barrier-free access to the church for everyone
Another key element of the planning is to comprehensively factor into the planning the needs of people with limited mobility. This will be achieved by raising the level of the pavement at the northern church entrance to provide barrier-free access to the church, hitherto completely absent. Corresponding surface finishes and tactile elements will likewise ensure everyone can make equal use of the square.
Dreikönigskirche is also used extensively as a concert venue. This is another reason to emphasize barrier-free access to the church building in the planning process.

Illuminating Dreikönigskirche
The 81-meter-high Dreikönigskirche spire is a clear landmark in the south Main bank’s skyline. To date, it has only been visible during the day. Even from the highly frequented riverside directly next to it it was as good as imperceptible at night. Outstanding monuments such as Dreikönigskirche should be eminently visible at night, too, and analogously to the cathedral contrast strongly with the brightly lit high-rises that are thus visible from afar.

The church facade illumination plans envisage highlighting key elements of the building and largely illuminating them such that the church and its proportions have the same effect at night as they do during daytime. To this end, the color of the lighting will underline the church’s materiality and any other lighting effects will be avoided. The idea is to use LED lamps to provide low-maintenance and sustainable lighting that lasts as long as possible.


Summary of the key thrust of the new plans:
-    Upgrade the appearance of the church’s immediate surroundings,
-    Restructure the square in line with heritage requirements
-    Do justice ins functional and design terms to the special significance of the setting
-    Provide barrier-free access to the church for everyone,
-    Illuminate Dreikönigskirche such that it is strongly visible in the night-time skyline

Project progress
Next steps: Implementation planning, construction preparations, tendering the construction services, contract award for the redesign of the squares, scheduled construction start from autumn 2024.

February 2024: The illuminations have been completely installed. Dreikönigskirche can now, like other endowed churches in the city, be illuminated in the evening hours.

July 2023: The City Council approves the construction and financing proposal for the design of the square

March thru’ September 2023: Realization of the illuminations for Dreikönigskirche parallel to modernization of the spire; the elaborate scaffolding is used for both purposes

October 2022: The City Council approves bringing the realization of the illumination forward

Early 2020 thru’ end of 2023: Realization of modernization of the spire by the Municipal Dept. of Construction and Real Estate

2016: Decision by the relevant municipal departments that the church surroundings be redesigned only after the pending modernization of the spire

October 2014: Approval of the preplanning proposal on a new design for the surrounding of Dreikönigskirche and its illumination.