Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd.
4056 Basel, Switzerland
- 20 June – 26 July 1992
At first glance Frankfurt’s Osthafen is a harbor installation familiar to us from many of the world’s cities. Only upon closer observation do the highly specific topographical and spatial characteristics of this site become visible. Our architectural and urban architectural suggestions have been developed out of this observation.
The harbor installation has the shape of an island surrounding a middle pier. The South Pier looks like a finger closing the basins to the River Main and leading westward to the city’s Main Quay (Obermainkai, Eckhardtstrasse). This gesture, described in the topography in the shape of the south pier, carrying us toward and relating us to the existing city network to the west, is also expressed here in the proposed urban architectural concept: a tree-lined connection along both long sides of the river and the harbor basin. This is a green connection binding this new part of the city into the pre-existing paths and streets along the Main. The proposed development consists of pre-existing and new complementary buildings surrounding meandering courtyard spaces that open alternately to the north and the harbor basin and to the south to the River Main. Along its way, this meandering shape defines the northern and southern long side of the south pier, i.e. the corporeal and urban architectural expression of the pier only really becomes apparent through the proposed architectural structure.
The Middle Pier, as its name suggests, is located in the middle of the future urban neighborhood of Frankfurt Osthafen. Together with the bordering Lake Schwelger, ideal in that it can be extended longitudinally, this Middle Pier will be converted into a public park. The park will not only become the hub of a new neighborhood but will also fill an important space in the green horizontal belt formed by the city forest, the River Main, the Middle Pier, and the eastern park. Continuous planting on the pier will make this structure look like an independent entity located in the water and filled with earth and plants. The edge of the middle pier, the “lip” of the “park container,” so to speak, is dotted with single, very slim, high-reaching residential towers having room for only one or two apartments on each floor. The residential towers are accessible to the Middle Pier through the existing spinal cord of the street network. Characterized by varied architectural expressions, the buildings will grow out of the edge of the Middle Pier like a palette of artificial plants.
The buildings on the north side of the harbor facilities are also developed out of the pre-existing dominant structure of the harbor. Here are buildings lying on the coping of the wall leading from the Main in toward the harbor. The buildings’ facades are oriented toward the water and look themselves like parts of the harbor walls that change and dissolve as they rise.
This dynamic structure of the buildings lying on the wall is complemented by inner parcels located at a short distance from the water and grouped around open courtyards. These are once again rather static quiet spaces that aid the transition to the urban neighborhoods that begin here.
The different and respectively specific character of the proposed urban structures is, as we mentioned earlier, directly derived from our perception of the site. The diverging parts of the harbor facilities are not homogenized and not more strongly linked to a unified neighborhood structure. On the contrary, we seek an architectural approach to the site that allows the pre-existing urban architectural and natural elements – the quay walls and piers, the still and the flowing waters, the bridges and the buildings – to emerge with even more clarity than they did before.
Herzog & de Meuron, 1994
- Stadt Frankfurt/Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt
“Architectures of Herzog & de Meuron. Portraits by Thomas Ruff.” Exh. Cat. Herzog & de Meuron and Thomas Ruff. Peter Blum Gallery, New York. 5 June – 5 September 1994. 2nd ed. New York, Peter Blum, 1995.
Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron: “Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron. Gebäude-Mäander und Wohntürme.” In: Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, Volker Fischer, Anna Meseure (Eds.). “Wohnen und Arbeiten am Fluss. Perspektiven für den Frankfurter Osthafen.” Exh. Cat. “Wohnen und Arbeiten am Fluss. Perspektiven für den Frankfurter Osthafen.” Deutsches Architektur-Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 20 June – 26 July 1992. Munich, Oktagon, 1992. pp. 188-195.