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A porous building block An analysis of and an intervention proposal for the industrial fragment from Josef Stßbben’s Neustadt, Cologne.

Valentijn Kerstens


February 2017. All rights reserved. V. (Valentijn) Kerstens. 0715399. This document is the written result of the course 7X600. Strategies and Places, supervised by dr. ir. A.H.J. Bosman in the academic year 2016-2017, and is part of the master Architecture, Building and Planning at the Eindhoven University of Technology. This document has been written for internal use only. All displayed data - including texts, photographs, drawings or any other graphical material - is created or owned by Valentijn Kerstens, unless otherwise stated.


TABLE OF CONTENTS READER MANUAL 3 COLOGNE 4 - 9 Historical urban growth 6 Urban growth: Neustadt 7 Urban growth: World War II air raids 9 CASE STUDY: THE CLUSTER 10 - 19 Research area 11 Traffic hierarchy 12 Parking 14 Access points 16 Changes over time 18 CASE STUDY: THE BUILDING BLOCK 20 - 35 Research area 21 Volume - isometrics 22 Social classes 24 Corner approach 26 Street facades 28 Access points: alleys and gates 30 INTERVENTION PROPOSAL 36 - 43 Argument 36 Proposal 38 Notes 45


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READER MANUAL This report involves a typo-morphological study to Cologne’s Neustadt, the urban ring area around its city centre. Herein, both the architectural scale (typology) and the urban scale (morphology) have been studied and analysed. Point of interest has been their mutual relation as regards describing and defining urban space. The research area has been reduced to the size of one building block that is regarded to be part of a configuration of building blocks a cluster - in the area of Neustadt-Süd. Call it a case study. The aim of this report is to describe the case study through its building typology

chiefly focusing on the morphological growth. Secondly, the actual case study will be discussed, starting with the cluster and continuing on the particular building block. Herein, the typo-morphology of the place will be explained by means of multiple types of analyses and drawings, accompanied by texts. Different scales will be used to describe this. Moreover, by means of several examples will be shown how the experience logic changed over time. Finally, these analyses of the typo-morphological situation entail arguments for the chosen strategy for the proposed intervention in

and morphology and, subsequently, to propose an intervention in the building block. Firstly, a brief introduction on the history of Cologne will be given,

the building block. This proposal will be supported by, inter alia, the theory from Philippe Panerai’s Urban Forms . The death and life of the urban block.

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COLOGNE

In the late nineteenth century city architect and urban planner Josef Stübben designed the Kölner Neustadt, a ring area around the medieval city centre of Cologne. Stübben was at that time greatly influenced by Haussmann’s design for the urban development of Paris (1853-1882); the design for Cologne’s city expansion is embodied with solutions that Haussmann had applied to Paris already.1 This will be elaborated further in this report.

The urban fragment that is subject to the analysis in this book is situated in the very south of Neustadt-Süd. In 1885 Jakob Scheiner painted a detailed Cologne cityscape in bird’s eye view. In the painting, the fragment is already visible by its industrial building typology that is embraced by greenery. South, fortifications border the block and the city.2 The current Merowingerstraße/ Ubierring, starting north from the block, forms a monumental lane towards the Rhine.

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Left Scheiner, J. (1885). Köln Vogelschauplan [cropped image]. Right Cologne, Alt- & Nuestadt, the study area is marked red.


Historical urban growth

Cologne during the Roman Empire

Cologne around 1200

Cologne in 1878

For a detailed understanding of the history and urban growth of Cologne is being referred to the more historically elaborated description by Murat Arslan et al. (2014). This chapter does not aim to describe the history of Cologne as such. Instead, this analysis advantages of their work, for instance by reusing several illustrations. Herein, these are used to offer an insight in Cologne’s urban growth, followed by more specific information regarding the case study. Along the Rhine, Cologne once functioned as a Roman military settlement, having defence towers and a wall surrounding the city. Remains from that period can be found in present-day Cologne. In 310, the realisation of the first bridge across the Rhine increased the trade and the importance of the Roman fortification. During the early Middle ages, under control of the Frankish, the cultural and especially the religious life started to dominate

Cologne. Under the leadership of the archbishop, several churches and monasteries were built. At the end of the Middle ages the city was led by a group of citizens and the archbishop was only concerned with religion. It was at that time, around 1400, that a university, town hall and financial administrative office were established. In 1820 Cologne became again a city with military purpose and fortifications were built around the city border. The industrial revolution boosted the development of the outskirts of Cologne. Surrounding villages became inhabited by many new workers and their families. In the first half of the nineteenth century the city grew from 40.000 to 100.000 inhabitants. Starting in 1837, 2441 private houses were built. Also regulations were made concerning minimum street width and maximum building height. The city became denser and around 1880 plans for a city extension were made.

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Urban growth: Neustadt

Cologne in 1883, plan for Neustadt

Cologne in 1925

Cologne in 2012

The military disengagement of the fortifications and the adjacent areas around Cologne, starting in 1873, opened new possibilities for expanding the city. The appropriation of land was highly necessary in order to grow. The city council initiated a design competition for the expansion of the city. Competition rules regarded the minimum width of the inner ring (35 meters), the outer ring (13 meters) and other streets (differentiating from 12 till 20 meters wide). Moreover, the total of the streets should cover less than 35% of the surface area. The extent to which the, in particular military, heritage had to be preserved was not yet determined. Josef Stübben participated with several plans for the competition, but he also criticized the competition with a small article in the Deutsche Bauzeitung. Two entries by Josef Stübben, in collaboration with Karl Henrici, were rewarded by the jury with a first and third place. In

1881 started the demolishing of the city wall. At the same time, a city expansion committee, responsible for parcelling, streets and the metro, selected Josef Stübben to be Cologne’s ‘Stadtbaumeister’. His design principles will be elaborated further in the analysis of the case study, which is described in the following chapters. Since the building process started in 1883 the city’s population increased rapidly; from 35.000 people living in the Neustadt in 1890, to 136.000 people in 1920. A considerable growth in comparison to the 155.000 citizens that were living in Altstadt. The building process of twelve years for almost the whole Neustadt area was extremely fast. Stübben was primarily concerned with the design of the public area, i.e. streets, squares, courtyards and parks. In particular, he was responsible for the design of the boulevard and the squares in front of important public buildings.

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All images Arslan, M. et al. (2014) p. 12. Cologne’s historical urban growth.


Urban growth: Neustadt

Top Map generated reusing Arslan, M. et al. (2014), p. 12. Cologne in 1925, the study area is marked red.

At the beginning of the twentieth century most important public buildings were built, mostly without the involvement of Stübben. The construction of new roads and railways was another important sign of Cologne’s development. After World War I also the former military airport became an important, international civilian airport. In this period of time, large parts of the case study area have already been built. In 1925 the west, north and east facades of the building

block defined a structure that appears from the outside to be rather closed. This outer ‘wall’ of buildings is mainly residential. However, in the core there were just a few buildings, which seem to be rather singular. These buildings are often relatively large and do not refer to the surrounding urban tissue. Moreover, the south side, where the block faces the railway tracks and the city border, the building block was still very open.

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Urban growth: World War II air raids

Under control of the Nazi parties new plans were made for Cologne. Though, these plans did not gain public support and were never realised. Nevertheless, the World War II air raids were devastating for Cologne. The population of the city declined quickly, and not only because of the number of death people; nearly 150.000 of Cologne’s 700.000 citizens fled the city after it was destroyed. Allied forces primarily targeted infrastructural and industrial

buildings. The analysed cluster, located in the more industrial part of Neustadt-Süd, was damaged as well. Especially the power plant was heavily bombed (see the paragraph ‘experience logic’ in the cluster analyses, page 18).

Top Arslan, M. et al. (2014), p. 33. Destruction of the Neustadt area by bombings during World War II. Heavily bombed Bombed Little or no destruction

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CASE STUDY: THE CLUSTER

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Nowadays, the aforementioned city fragment has a specific typology that cannot be found elsewhere in Cologne’s Nuestadt. The residential neighbourhood is characterised by the penetration of a rather mundane, industrial businesses area. The industrial activities derive from the former power station that was already built in the late nineteenth century. The periphery grew along the railway track and subsequently intruded itself into the

all

residential area at the other side of the street Bonnerwall. The analysed city fragment is located at the former city borders – the fortification walls – and, therefore, also at the border of Josef Stübben’s plan. This area has not been his priority for the development of Cologne. Rather, he focussed on Cologne’s ring structure, transport and traffic, the former fortification gates and the Rhine.

Left Image was generated by using Google Earth 7.1. (2017, June 3rd). Neustadt-Süd. Köln, Germany. Retrieved February 15th, 2017. Top The studied cluster is marked red.

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Traffic hierarchy

Left Arslan, M. et al. (2014), p. 74. The ring structure designed by Josef Stübben. Right Arslan, M. et al. (2014), p. 70. Network of squares designed by Josef Stübben.

The images above show two aspects from Josef Stübben’s design for Cologne’s Neustadt: the development of a network of access routes and squares. The left image shows the idea of a ring structure that mediates between the city centre and the Neustadt. The ring is a sequence of spaces, urban rooms. The right image represents a network of squares in the Neustadt. These squares are primarily placed at the main access routes and function as a sequence of entrances for the city. Multiple

radians cross the train tracks and provide access to the city. The former trade route from the Roman Empire is still present. This axis runs in North-South direction and has multiple squares on its route. The radian that enters the city from the South is continued all the way through the city centre, but the Northern radian is interrupted by the train station.

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The railway tracks are an important barrier. Before, the city walls protected and bordered the city, but today the railroad separates the Alt- and Neustadt from newer areas at the other side. The most important access roads are radians, which are marked red. They go through tunnels underneath the railroads. There is also a secondary, concentric structure (marked pink) that goes around the city centre.

Destination roads have been designed more freely. These roads often diagonally run through the residential neighbourhoods.

Top Traffic hierarchy. Primary access roads are marked red. Secondary roads are marked pink. The railway tracks are shown by multiple gray lines.

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Traffic hierarchy

Top Although the buildings are left out, the traffic hierarchy shows a clear structure of radians and concentric roads. The railway tracks generate an evident barrier.

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Parking

By identifying the parking possibilities, the differences between residential area and industrial city become clear. The residential building blocks offer parking along the streets. This is done parallel with the street or with a 30 degree angle. There are few exceptions to this rule; the church has a small parking lot and some blocks offer several parking places in the core, but this is only on a small scale. The ‘industrial city’, instead, has parking places that are partly lain

along the road, partly within the building block. Parking lots are lain in front of the facades, enlarging their distance toward the street. The many parking lots inside the building block are a direct result from its large size. The houses and businesses in the core of the block demand more parking places, and preferably nearby their front door. Castex et al. noted that “cars are omnipresent and we seem to be incapable of accommodating this presence in new neighbourhoods.” 5

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Left Google Street View (2008, August). Parking lot, Bonner Wall, Cologne. Retrieved January 28, 2017. Top Parking spots are marked red: systematic versus arbitrary organisation of parking lots. Right Google Street View (2008, August). Parking along the street,Wormser Strasse, Cologne. Retrieved January 28, 2017.


Access points

1

5

3

2

4

Map Access points as regards approaching cluster. 1. Google Street View. (2008, August). Vorgebirgstraße. Cologne, Germany. Retrieved January 02, 2016. 2. Google Street View. (2008, August). Volksgartenstraße. Cologne, Germany. Retrieved January 02, 2016.

The cluster of building blocks counts four corners that are situated at the crossroads of important access routes. Moreover, also the Merowingerstrasse, starting from the Lutherkirche, is an important thoroughfare for the area. Firstly, the corners will be discussed. Accesses I and II are adjacent to the Volksgarten. The Vorgebirgstrasse borders the city garden and the houses across the street seem to be for a higher social class.

The two Northern corners (I and III) are the most representative ones. They are located on the tree-lined avenue Volksgartenstraße/ Rolandstraße that is part of the outer ring structure of Cologne Neustadt, and have a similar appearance. The corner buildings are respectively five and eight stories high, but the different story heights level out this difference. In the case of corner III, the corner building is one story lower than its neighbouring buildings and it is oriented to

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1

3

2

4

both streets. The apartment building on corner I is merely oriented to the park. The Southern two accesses (II and IV) are established by means of a tunnel underneath the train tracks. Both entrance routes have apartment buildings between the train tracks and Bonner Wall. These blocks hide the peripheral buildings behind. However, a gas station directly in front of the tunnel does not contribute to the city’s entrance.

3. Google Street View. (2008, August). Teutoburger Straße. Cologne, Germany. Retrieved January 02, 2016. 4. Google Street View. (2008, August). Bonner Straße. Cologne, Germany. Retrieved January 02, 2016.

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Access points

1 5a 5

2 5b

Map Access points as regards approaching cluster. 5a. Google Street View. (2008, August). Merowingerstraße. Cologne, Germany. Retrieved January 02, 2016. 5b. Google Street View. (2008, August). Metzer Straße. Cologne, Germany. Retrieved January 02, 2016.

The node around the Martin-Luther-Kirche is an access point where one approaches the cluster immediately into its core. The diagonal Merowingerstrasse (5a) derives from Josef Stübben’s ring structure. The street visually connects the Church in one straight line with the Rhine. This access point is also an important one. The other street (Metzer Strasse, 5b) that runs towards the Church does not represent an actual access point. Cars are forced to turn right,

before turning back left, toward the church. However, for pedestrians it could be a direct access point, although it might be a little inconvenient.

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Changes over time

As noted before, during World War II the power plant was heavily damaged by air raids. The power plant was rebuilt, but differences are very well visible. On the left image are two young school boys standing in front of a gate. Today, the gate has disappeared in the image. Many children are standing on the street, in front of the school. The distinctive towers in the corner and on top of the building have not been rebuilt. Also the

small roof windows have disappeared in the reconstruction. The rough masonry has been replaced by a much smoother brick. The street has remained partly the same. Of course, asphalt and cars have made their entry, but the configuration of pavement, street and fences has remained quite similar. The fence next to the power plant seems the same, whereas the old, decorated lanterns have been replaced by modern ones that are equipped with traffic signs.

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Left www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/fotos/106205. Retrieved January 28, 2017.The power plant in 1930. Right Google Street View (2008, August). The power plant was rebuilt after the World War II. Retrieved January 28, 2017.


CASE STUDY: THE BUILDING BLOCK

The analyses of the cluster will be followed by the case study of a building block within this cluster. The building block is located in the core of the city fragment and is characterised by the transition from industrial city to residential city. It is bordered by the Bonnerwall, parallel to the railway tracks, the large ‘Volksgarten’ and other building blocks. Besides, the Martin-Luther-Kirche is located next to the building block.

Besides businesses and residential buildings, the building block also has a school, a large supermarket, little shops and cafés. The school is situated along the Loreleystrasse, the cafés have a view one the MartinLuther-Platz and the more commercial activities are mostly gathered around the Bonnerwall. The humongous building block measures 460 × 190 m2 and is the largest building block in Josef Stübben’s Nuestadt.4

Left Image was generated by using Google Earth 7.1. (2017, June 3rd). Bonner Wall, Köln, Germany. Retrieved February 15th, 2017. Top The research area is marked red.


The building block - Isometrics

Isometry North

Isometry East

Left North view Right East view

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Isometry North

Isometry East

Isometry West

Isometry South Left West view

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Right South view

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Social classes

Map Arslan, M. et al. (2014), p. 131. Social classes in Neustadt, Cologne.

This map shows the division of social classes in the Neustadt area. Neustadt-SĂźd is clearly represented by the lower class, whereas the higher class lives in the Northern part of the ring structure.

Upper class

Lower class

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Within the analysed building block is also a small difference in social classes. As noted on page 17, the houses and apartments facing the Volksgarten appeared to be inhabited by a higher social class. The configuration of the street and the architecture have a higher quality.

Map Division of social classes in and around the case study area. Top www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/Fotos/23434. Retrieved February 16, 2017. Vorgebirgstrasse, Kรถln. Bottom www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/Fotos/23439. Retrieved February 16, 2017. Vorgebirgstrasse, Kรถln.

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Corner approach

1 2

3 4

Map Corners highlighted

The building block counts six corners (or bends). Most of the corners function quite well, but some are a disastrous. Corner one is located across the Martin-Luther-Kirche and is interesting for having a cantilevering part, which makes the corner more explicit. One would more likely notice the corner building as being a special element. The second corner on the Martin-Luther-Platz is equivalent to the

other. The facade is wrapped around the corner. Just behind the bend is a discontinuity of the urban tissue: an alley that provides entrance to a supermarket in the core of the building block. Corner three does not appear as an actual corner building. The bend in the road has not been responded by corner building at all. Not in terms of architecture, nor function typology, nor morphology. The building is rather small and could easily remain to be unnoticed. One

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1

23

3

4

cannot speak of an actual corner stone. Rather, the urban tissue shows a gap. The streets Bonner Wall and Wormer Strasse meet each other in a sharp corner (3). This type of corner is characteristic for Stübben’s Neustadt where he designed multiple diagonals that intersect, in order to generate corners that have a high architectural and typomorphological potential. Nonetheless, this corner represents a

rather pitiful implementation. Although the corner is adjacent to the less attractive Bonner Wall, the apartment building has a unique view on the former power plant. The corner stone is paramount in Stübben’s design for the Neustadt, but instead, this building rejects its surroundings. The ground floor facade is completely closed, which offers a great surface for mundane graffiti drawings and to place your bike. The balconies have closed balusters as well.

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All images Google Street View. (2008, August). Nuestadt-Süd, Cologne, Germany. Retrieved February 02, 2017.


Street facades

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The facades of the segments 2, 3 and 4 perform as one; a facade with an impressive length of 533 meter. The two corners between the Loreleystrasse, Martin-Luther-Platz and Wormser Strasse are just slightly bent, allowing to perceive these three streets as an entity. Moreover, the facades of these streets are almost continuous. Wherever the continuity of this shell is interrupted by a gap, it remains secured by the facades across the street. Thus, the adjacent building

r wall

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blocks contribute to the perception of the shell. In this sense, the role of the aforementioned two corners is ambiguous. The facade of the building at the corner of segments three and four is simply wrapped around the corner. However, the corner building between segments two and three accentuates the corner explicitly by means of a cantilevering continuation of the facade.

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Vorgebirgstraße, segment 1

52 m

Loreleystraße, segment 2

155 m

Martin-Luther-Platz, segment 3

73 m

Wormser Straße, segment 4

Zugweg, segment 5

Bonnerwall, segment 6

305 m

11 m

167 m

Bonnerwall, segment 7

262 m

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Access points: alleys and gates

Top The building block has multiple alleys and gates to reach the core of the building block. Alley Gate

The building block has already been described as a wall to hide the industrial city. It has impressive dimensions, resulting in a large amount of space behind the street facades. The space has been penetrated by the businesses from the south side. Also on the north side the building block reveals a certain porosity. Multiple alleys and gates provide entrance to the inner core. These entries can be private or public and are used for parking and accesses to houses, apartments,

shops and more. Two of the entries are given by a gap in the ‘wall’, the other entries exist by means of gates. This principle and several examples are given aside.

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1. & 5. Google Street View (2008, August). Wormser Str., Cologne. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 2. www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/Fotos/99857. Retrieved January 27, 2017. 3. & 4. www.designinkoeln.de/wormser/index_ wormser.html. Retrieved January 27, 2017. Section Passage at the Wormer Strasse.

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Inside the building block

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Section AA

Situation

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Block 143

SECTIONS & SITUATION

32 Valentijn Kerstens


The little amount of images from Bilderbuch-Koeln.de that show something of the inside of the building block are often dated. Though, satellite images confirmed that the images shown above are still representative as regards the current situation. The houses in the core of the building block are often detached or semi-detached. There are also a several apartment buildings, but also these are independent and detached from other buildings.

The buildings - or at least the facades - and the courtyards seem to be well maintained. Certain facades are richly ornamented, some not. Most of the buildings are a little elevated, because of a souterrain. This enhances the perception of independent, singular buildings. These pictures also show that inside the building block, cars are not parked very systematically, but wherever one could find some leftover space, which is often really close to the buildings.

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Top www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/fotos/99864. Wormser Str. 37 (1994). A well maintained and painted facade.


Inside the building block

Left www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/fotos/99867. Wormser Str. 37 (1994). Brick-ornamented window frames for an apartment building. Right www.bilderbuch-koeln.de/fotos/99868. Wormser Str. 37a (year unknown). An ornamented facade in the core of the building block.

The little amount of images from Bilderbuch-Koeln.de that show something of the inside of the building block are often dated. Though, satellite images confirmed that the images shown above are still representative as regards the current situation. The houses in the core of the building block are often detached or semi-detached. There are also a several apartment buildings, but also these are independent and detached from other buildings.

The buildings - or at least the facades - and the courtyards seem to be well maintained. Certain facades are richly ornamented, some not. Most of the buildings are a little elevated, because of a souterrain. This enhances the perception of independent, singular buildings. These pictures also show that inside the building block, cars are not parked very systematically, but wherever one could find some leftover space, which is often really close to the buildings.

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INTERVENTION PROPOSAL

The argument

The building block and its surroundings.

The industrial city has penetrated the residential area.

In the nineteenth century, Cologne´s industrial site grew along the former fortifications in the south, the Bonner Wall. In modern times, the periphery continued to develop in the same direction; commercial businesses grew along the railroads that had replaced the city wall. The industrial city needs the railway in favour of its production. Ironically, Josef Stübben designed a wall in front of the Bonner Wall, ‘hiding’ the train tracks and industries. Could it have been a possibility to these businesses and industries to be spread throughout the city, in order to actually become part of it? Paradoxically, the periphery has always been separated from the residential area by means of a humongous, residential building block. One could doubt whether to speak of a ‘building block’ or of a ‘wall’. The businesses are dependent on consumers, the inhabitants of the city, but they remain rather disconnected from the surrounding residential area. The differences in their typo-morphology are

The building block performing as a wall.

comprehensive. Whereas the houses form an entity, the commercial buildings are singular, independent and separated from each other. The residential buildings appear as one building block by means of a common scale and a continuous façade that is at a short distance to the street. Hence, the street can be an actual street. In contrast, the ‘industrial city’ usually has much larger distances from the street to the façade. Moreover, the buildings are scattered and do not relate to one another. The intermediate spaces are not very structured and are mostly used for parking. The differences also derive from the very nature of a residential and a business area. Residents are often away from home during work hours and arrive home when the businesses close. The buildings do not refer to each other and are merely oriented to the street, or even worse: to the parking lot. The space is not enclosed by the buildings, but the buildings stand freely in the open space. Hence, this space in between the buildings does not seem to be designed

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An ‘ Hausmannian’ intervention: the continuation of an axis.

The humongous building block has been downscaled.

deliberately. Rather, the space flows and in this sense it can be seen as coincidence. The gathering of businesses resulted in a peculiar place without any mutual spatial or visual relations between the buildings. The distinctive role and large size of the block have resulted in certain unusual characteristics, of which some cause problems. It might have been better if Stübben had decided to continue the Metzer Strasse south of the church, in order to downsize the block. On the other side, has to be remarked, that could have weakened the idea of ‘the wall’. Moreover, to suggest such an intervention nowadays would be a bad idea. Although it would have a certain logic, a ‘Haussmannian’ intervention would be too drastic. At the end of the nineteenth century Haussmann needed a solution for Paris on the comprehensive scale of the city in order to deal with a collective, social problem. Hausmann used a network of breakthroughs and monumental buildings, serving a triple aim: “to enhance the monuments by isolating them and making

A satellite view adjusted to the intervention.

visual connections between them, and to do away with unhealthy and degrading living conditions and establish modernity everywhere: space and light and easy connections between stations and districts.”6 The aforementioned intervention would be radical and requires much demolition and restructuring. And even then, the urban tissue on the south side, along Bonner Wall, would still be a disorder. As noted before, the perception of a building block becomes stronger if the surrounding morphology also appears as an actual building block. The opposite is also true: the perception of a building block and a street can be weakened by poor surroundings. Although such a large intervention in the local urban tissue could work and therefore should not be rejected on forehand, it would be a very location specific solution. It would be interesting to create a solution that is applicable in other places as well. Thus, a different and also smaller type of intervention is desired.

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The proposal

Top Google Street View (2008, August). Corner on Bonner Wall - Wormser Strasse, Cologne. Retrieved December 14, 2016

The intervention proposal has been made insightful by means of four examples. The proposal does not focus on these examples in particular. Rather, the proposal represents a careful design approach that is based on theory on the one side and the typological, morphological and architectural qualities on the other side. The thoughts about the theory have been discussed in the previous section ‘The argument’. Hence, the three examples given here are

intended for illustrative purposes. The examples are a modest attempt to improve the liveability and beauty on a small scale.

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The corner has been analysed and determined as a rather weak implementation of Josef Stübben’s corner principles. Therefore, a collage has been made, using an old image from an exemplary corner. It is remarkable how well the old image suits the current situation. The building heights are very similar and the type of ornamentation is consistent with the surrounding buildings. Moreover, the ‘new’ facade shows rhythm, symmetry, repetition and hierarchy, which I believe is

incredibly important for a facade, especially in this context. The plinth of the corner building is not closed anymore, but can contain a small store, café or maybe a bakery. Such functions should be viable in a residential area and having a high school within a stone’s throw. The opened ground floor gives air to the street and avoids the facade to become hidden behind graffiti and bicycles.

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Top Collage made from the current situation and an exemplary corner from Josef Stübben’s Neustadt. Original image: Google Street View (2008, August). Retrieved December 14, 2016


The proposal

Rudolf Schwarz, Das neue Kรถln. Ein Vorentwurf, 1950, page 46.

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A sketch from Rudolf Schwartz has been placed on the previous corner building as well. Although the sketch might not fit as good as the previous image, it still gives some valuable insights. The collage does need a little more imagination. In this collage, only the ground floor has been replaced. The plinth is equipped with large glass surfaces. In passing by, the transparency allows for views through both facades. Being able to look through the

corner building from the one street to the other would be a totally different experience. A large improvement. The cantilever appears as a new element in this area, which might feel a little unusual. Nonetheless, the cantilever could provide shelter and adds a new type of scale to the street. The current pavement might feel inconvenient, due to the relatively high facades that arise on a short distance to the street. A cantilever could offer a more comfortable walk.

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Top Collage made from the current situation and a sketch from Rudolf Schwartz. The sketch represents his design of new street profiles for Cologne. Original image: Google Street View (2008, August). Retrieved December 14, 2016


The proposal

Top Collage showing how an alley can obtain a more public character by means of architectural elements that are ‘borrowed’ from Rudolf Schwarz. Original image: Google Street View (2008, August). Retrieved December 14, 2016

The third and fourth examples, propose a new design for the two alleys on the Wormser Strasse. These alleys are publicly accessible, but do not appear as such. The image above shows the corner and alley that is adjacent to the Martin-Luther-Platz. On the foreground two apartment buildings border the alley and frame the view. Both side of the passage are blank walls. Some graffiti is found on the left wall. Some planters are placed

on the road to the supermarket and in the back is some larger greenery. On this sunny image the alley does not appear to be bad at all. Though, it is only from this frontal perspective that the alley appears to be public. From a distance, the alley is not inviting at all. In this sense, Schwarz’ cantilever has been borrowed once more. The protruding element is folded around the corner. Combined with a large side window, a gesture is made to improve the public character.

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This intervention might be a little conventional, the filling of a gap. It is a continuation of the existing morphology. However, the thin plot forces a new building typology. The tall facade could also introduce a kind of architecture that is not present in the current image of the street. To force a new building on this plot will definitely enlarge the current architectural and spatial spectrum. The neighbourhood does not benefit from the ‘industrial city’

in terms of an attractive, lively environment. The morphology and building typology that comes with the industries, ignores the local urban tissue. Hence, the area detaches itself from the city. The type of proposed interventions will merely encumber the inhabitants nor the businesses. By means of small interventions, focussing on the ground level and the plinth, the porous building block can slowly absorb new value.

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Top Collage shows the idea of filling a gap: a continuation of the morphology, but introducing a new building typology and architecture. Original image: Google Street View (2008, August). Retrieved December 14, 2016


Notes 1.

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Panerai, P., Castex, J., Depaule, J.-C., & Samuels, I. (2004). Urban forms : the death and life of the urban block. Oxford: Architectural Press. P. 137 - 139. The author elaborates about ‘the development and diffusion of architectural models’ throughout European countries: “[...] German theoreticians and practitioners, who constituted Haussmann’s legacy, such as Otto Wagner or H. J. Stübben.” And: “[...] Otto Wagner’s and H. J. Stübben’s theories, which essentially went back to the technical devices that had been tried out in Paris.” Kier, H. (1978). Die Kölner Neustadt : Karten. Düsseldorf. Used maps: 26-27. This imprint is a collection of maps showing the historical development of the ‘Alt- & Neustadt’, focussing on the design from Josef Stübben, and accompanies the book Die Kölner Neustadt : Planung, Entstehung, Nutzung, Kier, H. Arslan, M., Elfeky, B., Kondakçı, Y., Loeters, N., & Şen, H. (2014). Cologne Neustadt. Eindhoven University of Technology, Faculty of Built Environment. Übersichtsplan der Alt- und Neustadt Köln, January 1888, Stadtbaumeister J. Stübben.; Die Kölner Neustadt, Karte 26. Panerai, P., Castex, J., Depaule, J.-C., & Samuels, I. (2004). Urban forms : the death and life of the urban block. Oxford: Architectural Press. P. 160. The authors explain the problem of cars in modern cities: “The relationships we have with the car are schizophrenic. Cars are omnipresent and we seem to be incapable of accommodating this presence in new neighbourhoods (...). Paradoxically, this seems easier in old cities, where (...) the presence of the car does not conflict with normal urban activities. But, in recent urban planning, any attempt to make cars coexist with pedestrians becomes impossible (...). And, the more density decreases, the more things become complicated.” Panerai, P., Castex, J., Depaule, J.-C., & Samuels, I. (2004). Urban forms : the death and life of the urban block. Oxford: Architectural Press. P. 8.

A porous building block  

An analysis of and an intervention proposal for the industrial city fragment from Josef Stübben’s Neustadt, Cologne.

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