The vote of the Town Planning Advisory Committee in Bonn could not be clearer: 7:0 for a plan by Dutch-German architecture office Benthem Crouwel. Meanwhile, the proposal for the redevelopment of the area in front of Bonn Central Station, which became known as ‘Bonn Gap’ received also green light from the City Council of the former German capital. Benthem Crouwel and the developer Projektentwicklung GmbH from Düsseldorf won from five competitors.
The design with the catchy name ‘Urban Soul’ aims at a complete transformation of approximately 10,000 m² of inner city. The plan foresees an ensemble of three building volumes that generate new street relationships and provide a forward-looking concept of use.
The project will start with the so-called Lifestyle House, which will be placed opposite the train station and comprises four floors. In the basement, ground floor and the first floor retail and catering facilities will be located. The two upper floors are reserved for dwellings and other uses, such as fitness centres or offices. The second building will house a hotel with about 150 rooms. The third building, the City Office, forms the eastern end of the urban ensemble and combines office and retail space with a public parking garage for cars and bicycles.
‘The user concept for Urban Soul is a perfect example of a high-quality, downtown mix,’ explains developer Bastian Julius. ‘With retail, hospitality, dwellings, hotel, offices, health, services and downtown-level parking, the transformation will contribute sustainably to the diversity in the Centre.’ However, the redesign should not be at the expense of the existing structures. The Planning of Urban Soul consciously follows the block sizes and building heights of the surrounding city district and blends harmoniously into the existing urban situation.
Important impulses will come also from the station plaza. The brief to the planners demanded reduced traffic, a widening of the road as well as extensive landscaping measures. ‘The station plaza’ says Markus Sporer, partner of Benthem Crouwel Architects, ‘will become a spacious boulevard and thus an attractive entrance to Bonn’s city centre.’ This is supported by the fact that the access to the underground distribution level will be near the station plaza which leaves room for an attractive open space design with public quality. Sporer concludes that it ‘will be a completely new entrance to the city.’
A high urban quality is also promised by the so-called Piazza, which is planned between the proposed hotel, the Lifestyle House and the historic residences of Maximilianstrasse. The idea to create an area where people like to stay is why the plan was called Urban Soul.