L.-Fritz-Gruber-Platz Redesign of the L.-Fritz-Gruber-Platz in Cologne

L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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Cologne - L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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Cologne - L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

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L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

Cologne - L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

Cologne - L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

L-Fritz-Gruber Square © 2012 Gereon Holtschneider

"Phos" (gr.): light, brightness
"Graphein" (gr.): to draw, carve, paint, write

As a tribute to the square's namesake, the square design interprets the theme of "light and shadow" as an essential means of expression in photography. The design is based on the concept of two-dimensional plaza design; vertical elements are reduced to a minimum.
The empty 9 x 35 m rectangle of white natural stone slabs (72 x 48 cm) creates a projection surface for light and shadow. The randomly created shadow plays become the second, constantly changing texture of the square. At night, light from a suspended hollow sphere traces the rectangular centre of the square. The luminaire sharply reproduces the shadows of the objects in the space on the white background. The principle of operation is similar to that of a projector. For a brief moment, the passer-by crossing the square becomes the focus of a scene determined by chance.

// Cologne Architecture Prize, 2014

"Everything can be changed, deformed or eliminated by the light. It is as supple as the brush." (Man Ray)

As a tribute to the namesake of the square, the square design interprets the theme of "light and shadow" as an essential means of expression in photography. The deliberately two-dimensional design of the square takes a back seat to the strong edges of the square with its facades from the 1920s and 60s, some of which are protected as historic monuments, as well as the characteristic tree population.

A continuous paving carpet made of basalt cobblestones typical of the area creates a uniformity and recognizability of the urban space. The center of L.-Fritz-Gruber-Platz is formed by an inlaid rectangle, which develops from the dynamics of the urban north-south orientation. The empty rectangle of light-coloured concrete slabs with an aspect ratio of 6:9 (35mm format) creates a projection surface for the shadows falling onto the square surface and intensifies the contrast between light and dark areas. The randomly created shadow plays become an artistic, constantly changing texture in the middle of the L.-Fritz-Gruber-Platz. They are reminiscent of the way photography works, displaying a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface. A 1 m wide band of plates frames the central square area. Three 4 m long white, monolithic stone benches are placed on this band, inviting people to observe, sit and linger. A quotation embedded in the frame as stainless steel letters flush with the pavement encourages an examination of the subject of photography.

At night, light from a suspended hollow sphere traces the rectangular center of the square. It falls on the square surface in such a way that the objects in the room are sharply outlined as shadows. The functional principle is similar to that of a projector: a hollow body with a matt black inner surface and a point-shaped light source, the opening of which is dimensioned towards the bottom in such a way that the focal rays trace exactly the surface of the square. For a brief moment, the passer-by crossing the square becomes the focus of a scene determined by chance. With a diameter of 1.20 m, the luminaire presents itself as an independent object that reflects its surroundings on its metallic mirror-like surface.


Award Light in Open SpaceGerman Landscape Architecture Award 2017

Jury verdict: With the redesign of the former parking lot, an elegant, restrained furnished urban space is created, which is defined predominantly by the surfaces and their nocturnal staging.

This approach is inspired by the namesake of the square, the publicist and Photokina co-founder Leo-Fritz Gruber. Thus, photography and specifically the handling of light become the thematic basis of the concept, whereby the consistent implementation down to the last detail is to be particularly appreciated. The inner surface, made of white concrete slabs in the proportions of a small picture (6:9), lends the room its own charisma. At night, this special format becomes an urban stage, a projection surface for human movement.

This is achieved through an innovative lighting concept that plays with light and shadow in a stimulating way. From a centrally suspended hollow sphere, like a projector, the surface is illuminated in its entire size. With the movement of the passers-by, expressive shadow plays are created, the square space appears dynamic.

Both the further materiality as well as the form and arrangement of the seating furniture take a back seat in a pleasant way and thus support the design concept. This demonstrates how very atmospheric places can be created with a simple basic spatial vocabulary and a focus on the staging effect of the lighting.

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Planning offices

scape Landschaftsarchitekten
Düsseldorf

Employees
Projektleitung: Hiltrud M. Lintel, Prof. Rainer Sachse
Mitarbeit: Jan Heimann, Judith Heimann, Markus Hilgers, Bernd Nengel

Further planners involved
Bauleitung
Bernd Nengel

Verkehrsplanung
ISAPLAN Ingenieur GmbH, Leverkusen

Tief- und Straßenbau
Willy Dohmen GmbH, Übach-Palenberg

Project period
2008 - 2012

Size
2.600 qm

Construction amount
570.000 €

Client
Stadt Köln

Address
L.-Fritz-Gruber-Platz
50667 Köln
Deutschland

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Prices & Awards
German Landscape Architecture Award 2017
Award Light in Open Space