ASRM Lab 2014: Region im Fluss was a multi-disciplinary workshop – organised by the directors of Architektursommer Rhein-Main 2015 in association with the Deutsches Architekturmuseum DAM and the Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein-Main - which aimed to re-imagine, re-programme and re-invent two of the region’s most problematic and neglected urban and semi-rural spaces – and in so doing explore ‘the regional city’ as a socio-spatial model for the development of the Rhine-Main area. Our programme identified two study / planning zones: one in Wiesbaden/Mainz and one in Frankfurt /Offenbach. Many of the issues / disparities facing the region are encapsulated in these two locations: both have large infrastructures dominating their surroundings; both have fragmented urban and rural landscapes; both are located in close proximity to the Rhine-Main belt; and both share a border between two municipalities, opening up potential conflicts between various local/regional authorities. This latter issue is possibly the reason why both locations have been the subject, in recent times, of unsuccessful masterplans. 

During the course of our four-day workshop, we explored new urban and rural prototypes that could potentially transform these dormant physical assets into dynamic, tangible nodes of activity that would benefit public health, movement, communication, social cohesion and environmental concerns within the Rhine-Main area.


Essentially, we are looking for a concept that deals with the specific characteristics of the Rhine-Main belt – a region synonymous with the regular flow of goods and people, economically prosperous but politically and socially fragmented. In support of this we compiled a series of maps and drawings outlining and highlighting the respective study zones. Additional background information, pertaining to each zone, was available during the workshop from our facilitators, local urban and architectural design professionals from both Wiesbaden / Mainz and Frankfurt / Offenbach.

Frankfurt / Offenbach study zone

Mainz / Wiesbaden study zone

Frankfurt / Offenbach Study Zone

In every way, the dynamic between the two cities is characterized by the flow of goods and people. But, at the same time, the very transport arteries – the Main river, the highways, the roads, the railway and the S-Bahn track – that facilitate this socio-economic activity also significantly hinder the potential for mixed-use development. Our study zone, situated south of the Main, is a perfect example of this. Here the full environmental and physical impact of the region’s transport infrastructure can be seen and heard. The heavily used federal superhighway (A661), the S-Bahn and the perpetual aircraft noise have restricted this location to a series of disparate activities: a commercial neighbourhood, concentrated around the Kaiserlei district; some agricultural activity, including a herb farm for the cultivation of Frankfurt’s famous Grüne Soße; and alongside the waterfront a cool collection of subcultural venues, borne out of the inevitable wastelands and disused parking lots generated by the ebb and flow of business activity. These include the famous Robert Johnson Club, listed for the last 15 years as one of the top five techno clubs worldwide; the Hafen 2, which, as well as being a nightclub, is a multi-purpose space for art, concerts and films; and, also, the Gerbermühle, an isolated restaurant and outdoor cafe where Goethe used to get drunk! 

Whilst this all sounds wonderfully eclectic, how could we improve this area so as to enable the connection between the two cities to become more rooted in its natural topography? That is, whilst the cities are clearly well connected through transport infrastructure, the richness of the riverside, as a connection between the cities, is hardly addressed, hence remaining largely under-developed. Conventional master plans have come and gone, because they fail to generate new urban and rural prototypes that can successfully address the deep-rooted restrictions generated by the location’s transport infrastructure.

Wiesbaden / Mainz Study Zone

The uniqueness of this area lies in its rural aspect in the middle of a large urban conurbation. The confluence of the rivers Rhine and Main, the peninsula (known as the Maaraue) and the raft harbor (the Flosshafen) create an atmosphere that is more conducive to leisure activities than the hustle and bustle of city life. Our study zone also takes in the district of Mainz Kostheim, and in particular the site of the now decommissioned Linde Company, which offers enormous potential to implement a mixed-use development scheme facing onto the Flosshafen. A success story of urban development could be written in the same way as has already started, and partly been completed, at the Port of Schierstein. The peninsula, which forms a large part of our study zone, is steeped in history: Emperor Frederick I (also known as Frederick Barbarossa) hosted Pentecost festivities here in 1184. For three days, more than 40,000 knights joined together to witness the accession of the Emperor‘s two eldest sons to knighthood.

Whilst hugely fascinating, and clearly adding a real sense of historical gravitas to the area, it is arguably the raft harbour that is central to the development of this study zone. During the region’s timber rafting era, this waterway was used to control the flow of timber from the Rhine into the Main. With the industry’s demise at the beginning of the 20th Century, the waterway only functioned at high tide; during normal conditions, a portion of about 100 meters became regularly dry, forming a solid land connection. Physical measures were taken in the 1960s to make this a permanent feature. The downside to this, however, is that the water has become contaminated and stagnant. From an environmental standpoint, this urgently needs to be addressed. But who is responsible? And who is going to pay for it? Regional or national government? Unsurprisingly, this has been an on-going problem for many years. The result is a peninsula which is increasingly looking like some run down leisure park from the 1960s. Our task, therefore, is to develop a series of schemes which can inject fresh life into this unique location and in so doing articulate ways in which it can potentially connect with our Frankfurt / Offenbach study zone.


Rhein-Main-Band App


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  5. siehe 4.
  6. siehe 4.
  7. Darstellung auf der Grundlage von Daten und mit der Erlaubnis des Regionalverbandes Frankfurt Rhein,Main
  8. OpenStreetMap, und Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie
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  11., Empirica 2012, Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie
  12., Empirica 2012, Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie