Frankfurt Old Town

35 houses – 15 reconstructions and 20 new buildings – were erected on the historical parcels of land in the old town destroyed during the Second World War. Streets such as the famous Krönungsweg (Coronation Route) between the Dom (Frankfurt Cathedral) and Römer (old town centre) or the "Hinter dem Lämmchen" lane can be freely accessed once again since May 2018.

Frankfurt has a rich history that started in this location. The archaeological garden with the finds from the Roman and Carolingian periods, the varied building and architectural styles that can be seen in the houses come together in the old town to create a tangible piece of history.

That Frankfurt today can call itself a trade fair city has its origin in the court of the "Goldenes Lämmchen" (Golden Lambkin) house. In the Middle Ages, it was the merchants of wine, woollen cloths, horses and luxury objects who had the imperial privilege of organising trade fairs in the courts of the town. The Lämmchenhof trade fair was a regular occurrence persisting for longer than any other. Not only goods could be bought and sold here, but the rooms of the house were also used for accommodation and storerooms.

The Krönungsweg between the Römer and the Dom is the most important and historically most significant route in Frankfurt. The kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation walked along it for the coronation in the Dom and back again to the Römer city hall for festivities. During the reconstruction of the old town, the DomRömer GmbH commissioned with the building work, restored the original route of the Krönungsweg and lowered it to its historical level. In the future, guests and citizens will be able go on guided tours to learn more about these epochs.

The old town in its compactness has not only become one of the largest but also one of the most beautiful old towns in Germany. People looking for work streamed into the city in search of cheap housing during the period of industrialisation at the end of the 19th century. This resulted in a rapid growth in the population. The old town with over 22,000 residents was soon chronically overpopulated and run-drown with poverty and crime rampant there. Redevelopment measures began in the mid 1930s but was made obsolete when on 22 March 1944 a British bombardment with more than 1000 airplanes almost completely destroyed the old town.

From the beginning, the discussion polarised around reconstruction. Despite intermittent development in the 1970s and 1980s, a period of indifference ensued with regard to urban development and led to ongoing intense discussions about the reconstruction of the old town and ultimately in 1981 led to the erection of the so-called Ostzeile (Eastern Row). Many inhabitants of Frankfurt now wanted "more old town". Over the decades there were several suggestions for new buildings in a contemporary architecture, but also historical models too. There was general agreement on pulling down the Technical Town Hall.

What stands there now is the result of all these discussions. Everything that was up-to-date or debatable from a political, sociological, town-planning or architectural view was on the table.

New ground was broken with this project in many ways: whether in extremely complex project development, the structural implementation or the multifaceted marketing. Over the 10-year period since the founding of the DomRömer GmbH, an obsession would need to be developed into an approvable, marketable project that was ready for building. It was necessary to constantly react to changing circumstances, and so the project experienced and had to overcome an endless number of customizations both large and small, yet always with the firm intention of actually carrying out this exceptional dream.

Looking to the future with a view to the old

With the intention of not planning or building for a gallery, but rather of creating a habitable neighbourhood suitable to the location, it was possible, as the result of all these deliberations, to construct exactly the kind of urban renewal which was recommended for this place. This urban renewal was carried out as carefully as possible in order to respect the given circumstances to the greatest extent possible.

If this "open-heart repair", as it was once called, ultimately leads to the neighbourhood being accepted by a large number of citizens interested in their city, and if what has emerged is unpretentious and timeless enough to retain its quality for years or decades, then it is a credible contribution to the discussion about contemporary architecture.

A popular urban district accepted by the majority of concerned citizens has been built. And its general acceptance guarantees that this new district will be an integral as well as everyday part of city.

Source: DomRömer, Frankfurt

In March 2019, the urban development project received the MIPIM Award in the category "Best Urban Regeneration Project". DomRömer Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Lord Mayor Peter Feldmann, commented: "With the reconstruction of the old town (...) the city has regained its historic heart. The project thus demonstrates in an exemplary manner how urban renewal projects can heal urban planning problems."

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