URBAN | 2019 | DÜSSELDORF, GER
WITH: Ina-Marie Kapitola, mesh Landschaftsarchitekten, Knippers Helbig
CLIENT: Stadt Düsseldorf
STATUS: Invited competition, 2nd phase
The ubiquitous alliance of the experience economy with art and urban planning has led to a constant reassessment and readjustment of its experiential quality in the centres of western metropolises. This Faustian bargain has robbed the urban of its randomness and art of its informality. Following this irrefutable doctrine, the city of Düsseldorf has launched an international competition to integrate its world-renowned cultural institutions (art academy, museum, opera...) into a "holistic experience". The integration of the city parks designed by the 19th century landscape architect Joseph Clemens Weyhe as well as individual green spaces are to literally transform the more than 20 cultural institutions in the centre of Düsseldorf into a cultural landscape: A consumable soft image of the city, without barriers, without friction – to be experienced on a Segway?
In the midst of this neo-liberal policy, which is measured by the efficiency and usefulness of its promises, we proposed an infrastructure without denounced function, without programme. An architecture without direct monetary exploitation potential, a size that exceeds any reasonable budget, a clear demonstration of political will, a radical commitment to pure public space and at the same time the exact answer to the city’s brief – a continuous loop that allows for a new experience of the city. However, this experience comes as an interruption of the smooth urban space, an insertion in the city fabric that can not easily be comodified but acts as a marker of its own.
A 4km long elevated path, without any visible function, without any recognisable programme – pure infrastructure – lays itself as a closed frame around the city centre of Düsseldorf. Raised from the street, the elevated path creates a new level in the city, a cartesian reference system that allows all objects in the city to relate to each other. By enlarging the perspective of the flâneur on the city - a phenomenon known in landscape theory that a certain distance of the viewer is necessary to be able to combine different spatial elements in the "landscape view" – a new relationship to the urban context and its cultural institutions can be established: Proximity through distance.
The frame – an institution of its own – provides the missing link between the museums K20 & K21, Tonhalle, Museumsquartier and Schauspielhaus by placing them in an associated network of places. In this way, the frame fulfils the City of Düsseldorf’s mission to make its parks and cultural institutions a coherent experience and also develops a new relation to the city itself. Unlike most conventional infrastructures in the city, the frame is open to appropriation. The access of the immediate urban environment allows the transformation of the frame into temporary places of urban life. Sometimes as a stage, sometimes as a grandstand or even as a temporary gallery and bar.
Its size is breathtaking, yet without taking over the city. Its reading is monumental, but without being megalomaniac. In the end, the frame remains a platonic idea, a consideration to change the view on the city, to raise awareness of the qualities of urban discontinuity, without changing, i.e. smoothening, the existing city.