This week, the FAZ published an article in which nine architects express their current thoughts about the Dom-Römer project in Frankfurt. Michael Schumacher talked about the project's history and schneider+schumacher's relationship to the new old town:
"We first confronted the topic of the old town while I was the chair of the Association of German Architects for Hessen. At that time, architects were not only struggling with the idea of simply tearing down an exceptional building like the Technical Town Hall, but also of embracing the romantic concept of an old town. Right from the start, we were clearly of the opinion that after the Schirn and the east side of the Römer were erected, this "hulking" building looked even more out of place, sitting there between the Cathedral and the Römer. That is why it seemed right to create a new neighbourhood based on the plan of the medieval old town.
At a workshop, in which many Frankfurt architects participated, we wanted to convince people that it would be possible to create a confident and feasible scheme if one designed a variety of individual buildings, each with a differentiated and distinctive elevation and roof type (and with only a very few finely constructed replica buildings). And all this could be achieved without harking back to the "old days", but instead, it would evolve out of the spirit, the creativity and demands of the present. However, this approach was not really welcomed because there was apparently an even greater desire to create something "even better than it ever had been".
On the other hand, our proposed subtle approach to design did not mean that we - as old Frankfurter residents and with our know-how - were not prepared serve the admirable cause of helping to create a living heart for Frankfurt. And so we got the job of coordinating the entire building activity, in close cooperation with the Dom-Römer GmbH.
This meant coordinating the twenty architects of the very distinctive new buildings, not only with each other, but also as to how these projects related to the replica buildings. And all this had to happen on top of a highly complex two-storey underground parking garage. Entrances in the small-scale buildings lead down to the U-Bahn, and transitions had to be designed to make them seem natural. In our office we had a team working for four years with great dedication and enthusiasm.
The end result is a huge asset to Frankfurt. The execution is fantastic and as soon as things start to look a bit less spick-and-span, the area will become an integral and natural part of our city, something of a "front parlour". Our only wish is that we might, one day, be in a position to build a neighbourhood that is just as ambitious as this one, and with similar architectural and urban quality, but without the slight embarrassment of looking over our shoulders at the past.
In cities, the issue isn't simply a question of old or new. It is about aesthetic issues, which in "normal" projects don't even feature, since concerns such as energy-saving, accessibility and economics always end up taking priority." (FAZ)
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