In Mannheim, Germany, letter-shaped buildings help to revitalise a neighbourhood


The Franklin Mitte neighbourhood as imagined by MVRDV in a model. Photo: AFP

An unusual building is under construction in the Franklin Mitte district of Mannheim in Germany. The residential building takes the shape of an "O" and is also named the "O"; its apartments went up for sale in Nov this year.

The 15-storey building, which will house a total of 120 apartments, has a unique public terrace in the centre of the "O", accessible via a large staircase. This space, conceived as a "neighbourhood lounge", is designed to be accessible to the community at large, not just the building's residents.

This "O" is one of four buildings planned for Franklin Mitte, along with the "M", for which plans have also been revealed. When combined with the "H" and the "E", together they will form the "HOME" neighbourhood, described by the architectural firm as "a family of residential towers".

The Dutch architectural firm MVRDV is, in part, behind this project, designed to revitalise the Franklin Mitte neighbourhood since the closure of the US military base. In addition to the four structurally unique buildings, the project will include a central hub, a green hill, and a retail and community area. All of this will reuse the buildings of the military barracks.

"The hill hovers across existing buildings making it a focal point for the development with streets cutting out of it and connecting to the residential areas," outlines the architectural practice responsible for the buildings "O" and "M".

The "H", which should see the light of day at the end of 2022, is being designed by another architectural firm, Haascookzemmrich Studio 2050, while AS+P is responsible for the "E".

An urban challenge

The Franklin Mitte neighbourhood is a prime example of urban transformation. Cities are suffering from a lack of fresh energy in certain neighbourhoods and are seeking to renew their appeal by creating spaces of proximity, greenery and community.

Following the closure of the barracks, "Mannheim soon accepted that this was an opportunity for urban renewal, a chance to breathe new life, alongside offering a fresh, new reason for aspiring families to stay and move to Franklin Mitte", explains MVRDV. – AFP Relaxnews

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