The project is the outcome of an invited international competition for the redevelopment of the historical centre of the city of Mainz in Germany, from Schillerplatz, along the famous Ludwigstrasse boulevard up to Gutenbergplatz. Mainz is a city with great historical prominence and a vibrant cultural hub throughout the ages. From the fortified city, once a centre of the Roman empire, to the open city that was birthplace of the press, to the endurance of devastating carpet bombing at the end of WW2, Mainz has been consistently relevant to European history.
It is on the scenic monumentality of the Napoleonic axis that connects Schillerplatz to the cathedral, that the intervention is centered. Our proposal highlights the Schillerplatz-Mainzer Dom axis and the Ludwigstrasse promenade (colloquially referred to as “LU”), redesigning both the street facades and squares. Approximately 5,000 sq.m of green space were added, including gardens, an amphitheater directly linked to Ludwigstrasse and a new public square connecting retail, hotels and restaurants. Our proposal also limits car traffic on the Schillerplatz-Catedral axis to public transport and emergency vehicles, increasing the city’s sustainability with pedestrian and bike accessibility, which in turn reinforces street commerce.
The redesigned Karstadt department store is the main driver for the renovation of the Ludwigstrasse site and an obvious extension of public space from Schillerplatz. Its volume is devised to generate two roof terraces of public use, with wonderful views of the city. The ensemble of 3-storey volumes comprises a hotel with ballroom, a Club, 3-storey retail space with a gastronomy area. A raised public square in the heart of the Karstadt building, in spatial and functional continuity with the Ludwigsstrasse, generates a monumental stair-cum-amphitheater which operates as a multipurpose space to and from Ludwigstrasse.
The programme also includes a 155-keys’ hotel on Bischofsplatz, located on top of the existing deck park. Its design, consciously rejecting the preferred typified schemes of international hotel chains, was carefully integrated in the spirit of the place with a volumes lightly receding and a façade of wood and bronze shutters.
The Fuststrasse corner building is a two-storey mixed-use programme including 12 small apartments and shops and restaurants on ground-and-first floors. On the 2nd floor, there is an auditorium for rehearsals and small cultural centre dedicated to music learning programmes and performing arts.
In terms of façades a composition system based on a morphological repetition yields subtle variations and juxtapositions that in turn warrant consistency to the intervention as a whole,giving each building or set of buildings their own identity. The tectonic articulation brought about by the use of post-and-lintel elements generates a compositional theme evocative of the structure which would otherwise remain concealed. The materials applied are all robust, true to their nature and in a certain sense traditional, i.e. stone, cast iron, solid wood, copper,ceramic and terracotta. Green elements in specific locations such as public terraces and balconies, enliven the city.