“Neighborhood is not a place; it is an attitude” (David Sim, Soft City, 2019). The intellectual guideline for the joint design project of the Chair and Institute of Urban Design at RWTH Aachen University and the Akademie für Handwerksdesign Gut Rosenberg der Handwerkskammer Aachen could not be better described.
The reality often looks like this: Our cities are becoming denser and public space has been neglected in many ways. This has an impact – especially on the quality of stay of squares. The design of public spaces is “getting on in years” and in need of care. Today, there is a renewed realization that public spaces – and especially squares – are the calling card of any city and the linchpin of coexistence in our society.
Since March 2020, a total of 30 students at the two institutions, under the direction of Dipl.- Ing University Professor Christa Reicher and Dipl. Designer and Lecturer Patricia Yasmine Graf (Chair and Institute of Urban Design) and Lecturer Lies-Marie Hoffmann M.A. (Academy of Craft Design) have been working on conceptual and design proposals for the redesign of these squares using the example of Augustinerplatz in Aachen’s city center and Talbotparkplatz between the RWTH seminar building, the Institute for Electrical Machines (IEM) and the Aerodynamic Institute, with the aim of creating a higher quality of stay.
The design work provides answers to the question of how communal activities can be promoted on the squares and which design supports communication and the meeting of people. The aim is to achieve a great effect in terms of new qualities with the least possible resources. The budding architects, young designers & craftsmen created a design for this alone or in teams for either Augustinerplatz or Talbotparkplatz.
The Augustinerplatz at the interface between the Kármán Auditorium of the RWTH Aachen and the old town of Aachen can take over the function of a central hinge. Currently, this square functions more as a transit space. The existing fountain installation and the zoning of the space reinforce this character.
Talbot Parking Lot
The parking lot, predominantly used by university employees, located in the inner area between Schinkelstraße and Wüllnerstraße, could develop a new quality in the core area of RWTH Aachen University as a public space without parked cars.
Important topics in the brainstorming for the redesign of the spaces were the current climate change and the traffic change and the associated desire to create more urban green and car-free zones. The students tried their hand at this.
The result was 16 different concepts: for example, a boules sand court, or an event area with a small cultural stage. Some ideas cleverly take up the subsoil and the difference in height, as well as the existing grid of the Augustinerplatz. Designs have also emerged that play with the theme of water, or even seek to establish various covered areas as a “marketplace of exchange.” Organic forms, hanging garden elements, flower beds instead of concrete and many seating areas both outdoors and covered or in small niches. Sandboxes and children’s play areas but also events such as cinema and culture are to be given more space. A parlor game entitled “Play with Augustine” was also developed in the process, which can be used as a basis for discussion for the redesign of public space.
At the beginning of September 2020, the results of the cooperation project were presented to the public for the first time in the form of large plots and models on a scale of 1:100 in the underpass at the Audimax (Turmstraße/corner of Wüllnerstraße). For one day, all interested residents and citizens were invited to view the designs and to talk and discuss with the students.
Christa Reicher, Patricia Yasmine Graf and Lies-Marie Hoffmann are convinced that the joint project “Mach mal Platz!” has not only helped their respective students in their development. It will also promote discussion among decision-makers in city administration and politics about the quality of stay in squares. The initiators agree that the successful cooperation should be continued.
The continuation of the project is already in the starting blocks.
The next round is scheduled for the coming winter semester.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)