Bike tour - from the 'Öde' (desert) to the garden of Eden

(Cover photo by Prof.hc Dr.-Ing.Philipp Meuser - we thank you for making it available)

A free architecture bike tour through parks in the north and west of Frankfurt am Main. New Frankfurters and those interested in architecture can discover the city in this way. People who lives here for a long time will mostly be familiar with the paths and buildings, but they might find it appealing to bike along the suggested route around Frankfurt in parks, outside of the Alleen- and Anlagering. Plans for the future are to expand the tour from the Osthafenpark to the Holzhausenpark and from the Europagarten to the Sommerhoffpark.

The maps for the tour can be found in the four italicized sections in the form of links to Google Maps.

The suggestion for this tour came in 2020 from the makers of Website NXT-awho has also published such architectural bicycle tours in other German cities. The link to the 'Biking Architects Frankfurt Tour' on NXT-a is here to find.

If we can do it again, we would also be happy to take you on this or other tours by bike and then have a lot more to show and to explain.

'Fahrrad' (Bicycle) and Frankfurt begin with the same letters, but with regard to the two-wheel network there is still a lot of room for improvement in Frankfurt, which seems to be better opened up here for two-winged means of transport. But there are still beautiful, surprising bike paths to be used in Frankfurt - through green spaces with views of the skyline or the heights of Taunus, Spessart or Odenwald. Here a very varied architecture bike tour through the north-western parks of Frankfurt is proposed. It leads along two major projects, Campus Westend and Europaviertel, where much more needs to be explained, but also to lesser-known objects and places that perhaps also broaden the perspective for Frankfurt architecture connoisseurs.

Bicycle route first section - from the Holzhausenschlösschen to the Zeppelinallee

1. Holzhausenpark

The starting point is idyllic: Holzhausenpark is the remnant of the 'Große Öde' estate of the von Holzhausen family. The small Wasserschlösschen (1727-29, Louis Remy de la Fosse) then falls outside the framework of the surrounding buildings from mainly the beginning of the 20th century. Now that the concrete architecture from the beginning of the seventies is again moving somewhat in a positive light, one should take another look at the interestingly composed facade of the Apartment building Fürstenbergerstraße 123 throw (1971-72 Nägele, Hoffmann, Tiedemann) which clearly shows what the views were about. On the way to the next destination is the one on the right Lessing school to see a traditional Frankfurt grammar school attended by the writer Martin Mosebach and the director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The old school was destroyed during the war. What is striking about the new building (Gerhard Balser, 1967) are the folded structure of the gymnasium and the relief 'Aufbruch' (Ferdinand Lammeyer). In 2013, an energetic renovation was completed by the architects Meixner Schlüter Wendt Architekten.

The Holzhausenschlösschen - starting point

2. Westend campus

After the gem 'Öde', now a large project. This should be the new one too Head office of IG Farben in the eyes of the board. The competition announced in 1928 was won by Hans Poelzig (1869 - 1936) with a baroque-style building (the window heights decrease towards the top) made of steel and clad with Canstätter travertine. It was completed in 1930. The green planning comes from the Frankfurt horticultural director Max Bromme (1878 - 1974). IG Farben was the fourth largest company in the world, this the largest office building in Europe originally for 1,600 employees. Reminder boards in the front of the building, a film in the porter's house and an exhibition on the first floor remind of the production of murder gas for concentration camps by a subsidiary and the employment of thousands of forced laborers.

After the war, the facility was used by the American Army and the foundations of the Federal Republic of Germany were laid here with the Prime Ministers of the western federal states.

Use by the US armed forces ended with the reunification. The idea of developing a university campus here proved to be successful. With a suggestion for cautious interventions, Dissing & Weitling Architects from Denmark (2001) won the contract for the renovation of the main building, for the design of the campus Ferdinand Heide convinced the jury with a five-strip plan (2003): on the railings two bands with institutes, followed by a green strip in each case and in the middle, the symmetry axis of the IG Farbenhaus, a band with buildings for general use, such as the cafeteria extension of the old casino and the prominently located on the central square Lecture building (Ferdinand Heide, 2008)

In the square is the sculpture 'Body of Knowledge' by Jaume Plensa - letters as the DNA of knowledge.

Between the House of Finance (Kleihues + Kleihues, 2008) and the Institute for Law and Economics (Müller Reimann Architects, 2008) the tour now leads to Grüneburg Park.

Institute for Law and Economics

3. Grüneburg Park

At the location of a Rothschild family's castle, which was destroyed in the war and previously expropriated by the Nazis, for whom the park was also laid out in the mid-19th century, you can take a quick look into the park. You can discover the Schönhof Pavilion, which was moved here in 1964. Between the trees is the view of what is under construction 'Hochhaus am Pakr' (Skyscraper at the park) steered. The scandalous project of the seventies, originally planned with a helicopter landing pad on the roof, is now being converted into an apartment building by KSP Architects, supplemented by a slightly lower hotel tower (primarily 2022)

'Hochhaus am Pakr' (Skyscraper at the park)

Bicycle route second section - from Haus Erlenbach to Ludwig-Landmann Strasse - Practical information: at the end of the last route map, cross the green area in the middle of Zeppelinallee and then get to Hans-Sachs-Straße. The next route map begins there. In the Hans Rücker Allee section in front of the A66, there are basically two ways of driving. Due to the construction work on the Main-Weser-Bahn, there may be diversions that can lead to a deviation from the route shown.

On the way to the next main stop we come through the villa area along Zeppelinallee. The Merton Palace (Am Leonhardsbrunn 12-14) dates from 1927! and was built by the Frankfurt industrialist and widely committed donor Richard Merton (1881-1960) (the Mertonviertel is also named after the family). As a stylistic contrast, you can take a short detour to Hans-Sachs-Straße 6 and take a look at the one built by Ferdinand Kramer in 1930 House Erlenbach throw.

Merton Palace

4. 'Frauenfriedenskirche' (Women's Peace Church)

The church, also built in the years 1927-29 after a competition by the 'modern' architect Hans Herkommer, has a special eye-catcher with the giant statue in the portal arches of the church tower. The sculpture was made by Emil Sutor (1888 - 1974), whose best-known work was the deer 'Bambi', which is awarded annually as a prize by Burda Verlag. The church was created on the initiative of Catholic women's associations to commemorate the dead of the First World War. The meeting rooms desired in the construction program are accessed via the cloister, which also leads to the crypt. Not least because of the excellent renovation by architect Ursel Härtter and restorer Sanni Riek, which was completed in 2020, it is worth taking a look inside the church.

5. Sports Campus Ginnheim

The smallest campus at Frankfurt University is called Ginnheim, but is located in Bockenheim. Via Franz Rücker Allee you come directly to the newest building Administration, library and lecture hall building by SWAP Architects, Darmstadt (2012). Due to the current circumstances, it can only be seen from the fence. In May 2019 there was a letter of intent to build a swimming center.

To the left across the building is the new escaping completion Dorm with around 300 furnished single apartments of 20 m² each based on a design by Ferdinand Heide. Only 180 places were required in the competition. However, it is dominated by the largest (around 730 seats) and highest dorm (56 m and 64 m) of the Frankfurt Studentenwerk (Ginnheimer Landstrasse 40, 42) The complex was built from 1962-69 according to a design by the architect Paul Friedrich Posenenske and was renovated for the last time in 2012, and then also energetically. At the entrance there is an information board about the use of the former industrial site as a prison camp during the Nazi era.

6. Nidda Park

Well-tended flower borders or wild nature, this question accompanied the Federal Horticultural Show in 1989 in Niddapark and its design afterwards. With the 'Nature in the City' plan drawn up by the landscape architects Norfried Pohl and Werner Kappes, the floodplain, which was previously avoided because of its floods, has now clearly become a defined recreational landscape, the second largest in Frankfurt after the city forest. Whether it's an old forest or a new plant, Niddapark has literally grown together to form a unit in which playgrounds and works of art are embedded. Allotment gardens line the park. Strictly organized or anarchistically wild, the 16,000 gardens in Frankfurt offer nature and little freedom for their owners. Sometimes they are overlooked, sometimes more defining, and for some city planners also a disruptive part of the Frankfurt urban landscape.  

On the way to the next stop, after crossing under the FW von Steuben Straße, the cycle path leads along the so-called Industriehof, a barracks area built by the Wehrmacht in the 1930s. After it was destroyed in the war, most of the site was used commercially, hence the name Industriehof, and a small area was occupied by the American army until the 1980s. At this point, an office building with a comb structure was created as the main administration for the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (RKW Rhode Kellermann Wawrowsky, 2000); New edition of the principle of the IG Farbenhaus. The 'comb teeth' are clearly visible from the path. To the annoyance of Frankfurters, the stock exchange then moved into The Cube (KSP) office building in the neighboring town of Eschborn in 2010. The local building, Lateral Towers called, has been used by Commerzbank since 2015.  

Bicycle route third section - from Ludwig Landmann Straße to Rebstockbad - Practical information: At the beginning of the route you can use the pedestrian traffic light on Ludwig Landmann Straße and then push your bike to Rödelheimer Parkweg. The specified route then begins there. When driving along the Nidda, it is important to ensure that the southern Niddaweg is still closed due to construction work on the A5, as was the case when testing the tour. If this is no longer the case, then you can also take the southern Niddaweg.

7. Brentano and Solmspark

In both parks, in fact united along the Nidda, one encounters very different layers of time: the foundation walls of the Solms Castle, which was destroyed in the war (last reconstruction in 1802, across the street), the 'Swiss house' of the Brentano family, a school pavilion from the time of the 'Neues Frankfurts' and a studio house from the present day.

Swiss house were a building type of the late 19th century. There were a number of them in Frankfurt, including in the palm garden or on one of the bastions on the Taunusanlage. The house here was older and was bought by Georg Brentano, the brother of Bettina and Clemens Brentano, in 1819 and converted into a romantic oasis. Now used as a Brentano museum and cultural center, a new building has been added since 2019 Studio house (Architect Berthold Ressler).

In the course of a Nidda regulation in 1929, the parks were created, which were built with the help of the School pavilions (Eugen Kaufmann, 1929) should promote the Frankfurt city youth's deeper understanding of horticulture. To the left in the Inselgässchen, a board remembers the Rödelheim synagogue, which was devastated in 1938.

School pavilion

Bicycle tour fourth section - from the Rebstockbad to the Eden skyscraper

8. Vineyard site

The 'Großer Rebstock' house, newly built in Frankfurt's old town, is reminiscent of the home of the Rebstock family, who for a long time were only known for their 'grounds' in Frankfurt. Used as an exhibition center and the first airport, a large park was created on the Rebstock site and in 1982 the Rebstockbad (Fischer Glaser Kretschmer) was one of the most modern adventure pools in Europe with around 2500 m² of covered water. After years of sober concrete architecture, the tent-like wooden roof construction impressed. But you only have a short opportunity to look at it, because the bathroom will be demolished after 40 years of use in order to create a new, now state-of-the-art bathroom.

Rebstock quarter

The Rebstockviertel, developed according to a, albeit trimmed, design by the American architect Peter Eisenmann (competition 1992), has a special role in Frankfurt in terms of its urban planning and architecture - the building positions in zigzag lines and facade design, the residential buildings designed by various architects, are given by a common principle. On the left side of Leonardo da Vinci Allee is the first certified office passive house in Germany for the Accident Insurance Hesse (No. 20, B&V Architects, now Canton Braun Park, 2005) follow one on the left Day care center according to the draft of the building authority (2007) and the Viktoria-Luise primary school by Prof. Friedrich pfp-architects, Hamburg (No. 11, 2014), named after the zeppelin of the same name, which flew on the Rebstock from 1912.

Rebstockpark

Still partly used as an on-demand parking lot for the trade fair, a large part of it was redesigned into a large park between 2003 and 2005. The planning also came from Peter Eisenmann and the American landscape planners Robert Hanna and Laurie Olin. The Frankfurt office BWP Endreß Landschaftsarchitekten was involved in the execution. The basis of the design is again a warped grid. The dry canals are clearly visible. Bush was largely avoided, so that generous views are offered under the branches of the trees.

Vineyard settlement

9. Europagarten

The term Europapark is given by a facility in Rust, Baden, so that the park was called a garden here (relais landscape architects, first section 2012).

It is the center of the western 'Europaviertel' (European quarter). This is 90 hectares of the city that was created near the city center and the exhibition center on the site of the former freight and marshalling yard. A quarter of these are green spaces, a quarter of living space with around 5,000 apartments, a quarter was added to the trade fair and a quarter is mixed-use with around 30,000 jobs. (AS&P master plan, 1999)

The garden is located above a tram and light rail tunnel (2016). In order to better connect the districts north and south of the former Gleistrasse, the garden was supplemented with so-called pocket parks. The tour led through the northern one (BWP Endreß, 2016) and the southern one is named after Lotte Specht (1911 - 2002), the inventor of Frankfurt women's football. In the middle of the meadow, the wooden structure with a lookout tower and restaurant stands out, which was built by the investor in order to have an early attraction in the area (Franken Architekten, 2013). After the sale, the catering is currently unfortunately closed.

The Europaviertel is accessed through the axis of Europaallee. Your entrance gate in the west are two high-rise buildings, both around 60 m high: the Axis (Meixner Schlüter Wendt, 2016) and the Westside Tower (Meyer Schmitz-Morkramer, 2015)

A similar gate situation arises at the eastern mouth of the tunnel: the residential high-rise Praedium (Dietz Joppien, 2017) and opposite under construction, the new one Headquarters of the Frankfurter Allgemeine (Eike Becker, primarily 2022).

If you continue from here in the direction of the city center, there are only office buildings and hotels on the left-hand side, as no residential developments were possible adjacent to the exhibition grounds. An exception among the residential buildings on the right is the office building zebra (Meyer Schmitz-Morkramer, vorr. 2022) which will be built behind the Praedium.

10. Skyline Plaza

A park of a special kind is the Skyline Plaza, the large garden on the shopping center that covers part of the roof Skyline Plaza (ECE - Jost Henning, Jourdan & Müller Facade, 2013). Due to the current situation, however, it is closed until further notice.

The Skyline Plaza is basically the center of a large ring road into which all existing streets flow and then lead onto Europaallee, which has its end or starting point here. This 60 m wide avenue (planted by Gnuechel + Triebswetter) was planned with a view of the Champs Elysee and 'Unter den Linden' in Berlin, so you are standing in front of the Frankfurt counterpart to the Brandenburg Gate or the Arc de Triomph.

Along Europaallee, in front of the western Skyline Plaza entrance, you can see residential buildings from the Jo Franzke office (until 2010) on the left, and the office building directly adjacent on the right 'Die Leichtigkeit des Steins' (The lightness of stone), what are meant are the narrow stone pilaster strips of the otherwise largely glazed facade. (Schneider + Schumacher 2010)

The Skylineplaza is surrounded by a series of high-rise buildings. The north is a combination of offices and a hotel Tower One under construction (Meurer Architektur, 2021), in the east of the Grandtower as the highest residential tower in Germany (172 m, Magnus Kaminiarz & Cie, 2020) in the south under construction of Spin tower (Hadi Teherani, primarily 2022) that Eden (Magnus Kaminiarz and Helmut Jahn, vorr. 2022) and a surrounding apartment block. The term Eden is often paired with 'garden'. Therefore, this park and architecture tour should end with a high-rise building that will have a green facade, a vertical top-view park. A small foretaste of this could already be discovered on the facade in 2020, but it will share the fate of non-poured window plants in spring 2021.

You are there! This bike tour and the type of publication is a 'first' and may need improvement. If you see the opportunity to do so, please write to me - info@frankfurter-architektouren.de