Landscape Architecture: scape Landschaftsarchitekten, Düsseldorf, Germany
Project name: Town Hall Square
Location: Solingen, Germany
Completion date: 2008 (1st building phase)
Client: SEPA Projekt- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, Berlin/Stuttgart
Architecture: EPA Architekten, Stuttgart, Germany
Photographer: atelier 2, Gereon Hofschneider scape Landschaftsarchitekten, Rainer Sachse
Text: scape Landschaftsarchitekten
In 1993 the city council of Solingen, an industrial town in central Germany, decided to merge all the municipal services administration offices in one new building. In this context it was decided to create a new quarter, composed of the municipal buildings, housing, shops, gastronomy and offices. To receive innovative solutions for a new kind of municipal district the city of Solingen advertised an architectural / landscape architectural competition.
The winning design defines the whole area as an urban landscape, a perceptibly continuous public space. The concept is characterized by an intense interaction of architecture and open space. So the Town Hall Square becomes an urban living room, the connecting access road turns into a linear pocket park and the courtyards into public gardens. For the designers the objective was to create the town hall district as an open space for all citizens, a place where people meet and spend their time. A network of squares and promenades connects the scheme to the surrounding.
To build a coherent area, a pattern of black and white lines traces the whole public open space. Like a marquetry, a connecting concrete carpet integrates various functional elements and provides zones with different characters and uses. The entrance to the new quarter is formed by a wide square. Its design is inspired by the movement of people. Along the edge it offers enough space for walking, seating and events. In the centre three huge, organically shaped benches along with a group of flowering trees (Sophora japonica, Japanese Pagodatree) establish an area to pause and communicate. Four courtyards within the quarter are a counterpart to this open, lively square. The courtyards are arranged as abstract gardens, as green, quiet places. Here the black and white pavement is transformed into strips of gravel, perennials, bulbs and grasses. Wooden platforms serve as seats and contain the ventilation of the underground parking. The centre of the Town Hall Square is designed as a linear pocket park: Two footpaths frame a mounded grass strip, planted with multi-stem cherry trees (Prunus × yedoensis, Yoshino Cherry). The park provides areas for playing and relaxation, it acts as a green boulevard and links all parts of the project.