Frankfurt’s most relaxing green area

By sinai Gesellschaft von Landschaftsarchitekten mbH

Frankfurt’s most relaxing green area

The Hafenpark in the east end of Frankfurt marks the end of the green promenade that stretches along the bank of the Main River, and the start of the green belt. For the city of Frankfurt it represents the people’s park of the 21st century.

Frankfurt has a large, new open space set against the impressive backdrop of the European Central Bank. Everyone is welcome here, from those who like to exercise outdoors, spontaneously and free of charge, or even those who simply like to relax in natural surroundings. Instead of ‘Keep off the grass’, the signs read, ‘If you’re here already, sit down’.

Frankfurt has, after almost four years of construction, another 40,000 m² of local recreational space. The construction works and the opening ceremony of the approx. eight million EUR park situated between Honsell Bridge and Deutschherren bridge in the east end of Frankfurt were delayed. The day the park was officially opened was, for Rosemarie Heilig (Greens) in her own words: “The most wonderful day since I became Director of Environmental Services.”

“Very rarely is a park so enthusiastically received before it is opened to the public as the Harbour Park is. It shows Frankfurt at its most lively and appealing; this is where the pulse of the city beats. (…) Come to our ‘place to be!’” This is how Director Rosemarie Heilig worded her invitation to the opening of the park with a large summer festival in July 2015.

The opening of the Hafenpark marked the completion of the transformation of an industrial wasteland to a new park for the people. The park programme can be traced back to an online survey with citizens in 2009. More than 1,300 residents of Frankfurt participated in the planning of this new citizens’ park. The open space planning competition followed, which the sinai office won.

The skate and BMX site ‘concrete jungle’ was handed over to the public back in December 2012. It was designed in collaboration with groups of BMX riders, skateboarders and in-line skaters over the course of several workshops. Young people and adults envisaged a place where they could realise their dream scenario. The models of these aspirations were realised in concrete. The contours and shapes of the level, concave, convex and sloping surfaces were created using elaborate formwork elements handcrafted out of wood. The western section of the skate park is a flat ground area / technical park with various components such as banks, transition ramps, curbs and copings. In the eastern section lies the main area with a skate pool, and a 4.3 m deep skate bowl, spheres, cylinders and supporting walls with rounded approach surfaces. The park has defined the skater and biker scene ever since.

Following on from this, in the summer of 2013 the sports belt section of the park with its basketball and multi-purpose courts, as well as the youth climbing park and the fitness areas was completed. The sports belt section, which covers an area of 10,000 m², boasts two basketball courts, a climbing exercise trail for young people, a children’s playground designed with a ‘balls’ theme, as well as two fitness areas.

Older respondents to the survey made it clear that fitness equipment was required. As a result, an area for senior citizens was created, and another for the athletically-ambitious Freeletics scene, which has really embraced the park since it opened.

“Where men hang and skaters stick to the rules” was the title of an article in the Rhein-Main section of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It has never been so easy to belong to the in crowd as it is now in the Harbour Park. The trend sport is calisthenics. Visitors see the bodies hanging from afar, stretched parallel to the ground with only the hands on the poles keeping the men horizontal. Beginner group training in calisthenics take place at weekends where nearly 100 people attend.

Two multi-purpose courts are available for volleyball and badminton, football and hockey, after it was discovered that there was a demand for these sports, for teams that are not part of sports associations. The nets and posts needed for the different sports lie ready in the benches with storage room that border the playing fields and can be used free of charge by all athletes. The allocation of courts is self-regulated. Since the sport belt was officially opened, the principle appears to have worked with no issues – although the city administration has played no part in the supervision of the playing fields. The Hafenpark, a place to be shared and of peaceful co-existence.

A robust and functional steel construction was selected for the ball fences, specially designed for the Hafenpark, and they help define its character. The latticework style fences emphasise the sport belt’s longitudinal alignment. The treillage latticeworks are the vertical, space-defining elements for the entire complex. They are reminiscent of the steel arches of the Deutschherrn and Honsell bridges and create a complete optical ensemble.

 

Conclusion

The park was officially completed in July 2015 with the opening of the grass belt area. Those seeking relaxation can indulge themselves now, too: The last segment of the park on the banks of the Main offers relaxing spots on floe-like platforms between wooded groves and wild meadows. The Hafenpark now stretches from in front of the impressive backdrop of the European Central Bank high-rise building along to the new Honsell Bridge and marks the end of the green promenade that stretches along the riverbank, as well as the Frankfurt green belt that stretches down from the north. With its distinctive treillage latticework in the sport belt, the general structure of the park orientates on a large scale towards the visual bond between the Honsell Bridge and the Frankfurt skyline. A clearing makes it possible to experience the river as far north as the “Concrete Jungle”. The atmospheric combination of lively activity and tranquil spaces, fun sport and experiencing nature is, according to the city of Frankfurt, what makes the 21st Century Park.

Denise Peikert of the Rhein Main newspaper reported on 16 August 2015 on the subject of “Sportivity”, a new urban attitude to life. “(…) Precisely this city, in which sullenness and agitation often lie thick as fog between the bank towers, seems to have been searching for this place for a long time, given how quickly it adopted it ‒ as a picnic spot, somewhere have a kick about, lie around, ride on the swings, skate, do pull-ups. Frankfurt has received somewhere it didn’t have before, a place that staves off the boredom so that you end up wanting to stay. A place that is modern, the centre of an urban megatrend even. Researchers like those from the Zukunftsinstitut (…) talk of Sportivity, which is what the sportsmen and women of today are all about: it’s not about records – it’s about anchoring a new attitude to life in your day to day life. (…)”

                        

Photo: Philip Winkelmeier

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