For decades the 120m long and 130 year old Goethe-Tunnel in Mainz has not been refurbished. Although highly frequented as one of the main connections between Mainz-Neustadt and Hartenberg-Münchfeld, the tunnel has been one of the top ranking non-spaces of the city. The tunnels dark and anxiety ridden appearance caused passers by to quickly and uncomfortably move through this space. As an entryway to Mainz-Neustadt the tunnels negative effect could no longer be tolerated – consequently the city of Mainz decided to embark on refurbishing the tunnels appearance.
Employing architects to work on refurbishing a tunnel is unusual and may even need explaining. After all surely all an old tunnel needs is a thorough cleaning, a new coat of paint and a couple of fluorescent lights. But that is where the problem lies. The budget did not allow for a new coat of paint, light and design. Also a clean up would not have solved the problem in a sustainably way, since a fresh coat of paint today becomes the perfect canvas for the grafitti or postering of tomorrow.
Consequently SYRA_SCHOYERER ARCHITEKTEN decided to combine the parameters of light, colour and design into a single flat box that runs the length of the tunnel. Hereby the architects utilized industrial mass produced parts that until lately were not commonly available, such as LED lights and modern foil technology. The LEDs keep the power consumption low whilst allowing for the necessary lighting. The foil creates an ever changing colour spectrum featuring all colours of the rainbow. Whilst the observer moves through the tunnel the colours constantly shift, creating an interactive experience.
Apart from the application of the light box on both sides of the tunnel, the walls are left untouched. The 130 year old archaich character of the walls creates an interesting contrast to the modern slck box with its colour- and lighteffects.
Because - In contrast to darkness - light and colour are experienced in a positive way, moving through the tunnel the observers experience is stimulating and no longer repelling.
Since its refurbishment the Goethe Tunnel has risen above ist purely functional neccessity, becoming an attractive entryway to Mainz Neustadt.