House Friesenplatz
New spaces for living and working inject vitality and help mend the urban fabric.
  • Location
    Cologne
  • Project
    New construction of office, commercial and residential buildings
  • Client
    Allianz Real Estate Germany GmbH, Lang & Cie.
  • Architect of record
    Caspar Schmitz-Morkramer
  • Planning and construction period
    2008–2019
  • Service phases
    1–5, 8 (artistic supervision)
  • Gross floor area (AG/BG)
    18,000 m²/6,600 m²
  • Photos
    HGEsch
  • This project is from the joint period of meyerschmitzmorkramer.

Friesenplatz, like Cologne’s other central squares, Rudolfplatz and Neumarkt, has awaited a makeover for quite some time. Since 2008, gradual progress has been made – not through one grand solution but through modest interventions by different stakeholders thoughtfully revitalizing the worn urban fabric. With the Haus am Friesenplatz, we were able to contribute to these efforts. Aligned with the vision of Cologne as a “European City” (Europäische Stadt), our ensemble of three office and commercial buildings not only closes an unsightly gap along Hohenzollernring boulevard. It also creates much-needed downtown living space inside the block with a new building that fits in perfectly.

Noticeable, Not Intrusive

The office and commercial buildings stand shoulder to shoulder, tracing the corner of Friesenplatz/Hohenzollernring with a gentle curve. Despite the ensemble’s prominent position, we refrained from creating a landmark in favor of a well-balanced structure. We stay within the neighborhood’s scale, style, and color palette; we fit in, continuing the narrative of the surroundings while delivering quality architecture. Contour lines, eaves, and stories run uniformly across all three elevations. Only five of the seven floors are visible, adhering to inner-city height regulations; the top two office floors are set back as staggered stories. The ground and first floors at Friesenplatz/Hohenzollernring host retail and restaurant spaces along with the entrances to the offices above, access to the underground parking garage, and courtyard entry. The facades reflect this mixed-use nature, each building featuring unique materials (white concrete, natural stone, and again white concrete) and varying grid patterns of window openings for a modern reinterpretation of the small-scale context that maximizes natural light within the interiors.

Animating an Empty Space

Traditionally, the interiors of the blocks in Cologne’s Neustadt district housed small workshops for craftspeople, but these have become increasingly rare. Today, these spaces are often used for parking, which is practical for individuals but underutilized for the neighborhood as a whole. Utilizing available space, such as at Friesenplatz/Hohenzollernring, for sensitive densification with housing is a crucial step in transforming our city for the future. Our new apartment building, designed as a narrow volume, is set back from the block’s edge and seamlessly connects to existing courtyard buildings. The building has a total of five stories, with the ground level slightly elevated for better lighting, and the fourth floor is indented as a staggered story, remaining below the height of the block’s edge. Each of the 27 apartments features its own open space in the form of a garden or balcony. Benches and greenery in the entrance area encourage neighborly interaction. Clad in dark-colored plaster with light-colored reveals, this distinctive building offers a tranquil living space amidst the urban hustle and bustle of the city center.

An Energizing City Mural

Isra Moreno not only works in our team as an architect but is also a talented graffiti artist. We’re especially delighted that the building owners commissioned him to transform a blank foyer wall in the building on Friesenwall into a 6 x 10 meter mural. This unique artwork radiates energy, enriching the surrounding urban space.

 

Project team
  • Simone Hamm
  • Martin Lorger
  • Claus Pfister
  • Karen Albers
  • Sigrid Andest
  • Fabio Di Franco
  • Melanie Fior
  • Clemens Gallisch
  • Fernando González Cardero
  • Oliver Greven
  • Veit Katafias
  • Moritz Lohse
  • Israel Moreno Torres
  • Christian Otte