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Frankfurt from the Home of Apfelwein to the Temples of Capitalism

August 26, 2012

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One the main features of European cities is density and variety that allows you in a few minutes walk to access radically different places and experiences. In the following pictures (I know it’s the fourth post about Frankfurt, I promise it’s the last one) I document the walk from Zum Gemahlten Haus (below) – the most famous place to drink (gorgeous!) Apfelwein in Sachsenhausen – to the hearth of frankfurter consumerism (Zeilgalerie department store) located on one of the most expensive retail streets (Zeil) of Europe. From its roof terrace bar you can enjoy a nice view over some highrise buildings of the city (the highest is the Kommerzbank tower designed by Norman Foster).

Having looked at this skyline from various points of view my impression is of a heterogeneous and incremental landscape, born out of the identity of the city and its actors, more than from the need to show off of many Mayors or entrepreneurs around the world. The skyline in Frankfurt is the result of a rather slow accumulation of highrise buildings (started by the Deutsche Bank in 1979 and not yet completed), whereby the competition to be the tallest, the most attractive or the most peculiar is not immediately evident. The slow rate of speed and the understatement outlook of the buildings, together with some attention for the impact on urban environment and infrastructure, makes this bunch of skyscrapers in a way sustainable. 

This is something I really miss from Germany: the possibility to seat on nice bank along the street, have a quick apfelwein (or two…) and continue my walk. Luckily in Milan I can often enough enter a nice bar and have a good coffee.  Below a playground for children along the Main river.

Above the building site of a new museum, between the river bank and the historical city center. In the background the financial city. Below an ordinary inner yard, at a very prominent place. Adjacency and interlacements of prominent buildings and representatives public spaces with more ordinary ones is another pleasant feature of the European compact city.

Below the main building of the Municipality of Frankfurt, the so-called Roemer

The Schirn Kunsthalle (Museum of Fine Art) is home of contemporary and modern art exhibitions. To my knowledge this was the first of a long list of new museums buildings realised in Frankfurt and it is still among the most appreciated.  It was designed by BBJS architects (Dietrich Bangert, Bernd Jansen, Stefan Jan Scholz und Axel Schultes) and opened 1986.

Archeological excavations provide abundant justification to the name of this central square of Frankfurt.

This is another department store on the Zeil, one of the most unnecessary and pointless buildings I have ever seen (by Massimiliano Fuksas). Not to talk about how this hole ( a formal exercise borrowed by the roof construction of the new fairground in Milan, where it has a fully other dimension and sense) this glazed hole makes the facade unfit to the most common weather conditions (snow, wind and rain comes through with consequences that are easy to imagine). Most aberrantly this facade also makes  any reasonable brand communication or visual link between the inner space and the public space outside impossible.  Better take a bike taxi to the train station and head back home.

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