Kulmbach’s central square plays a significant role in the city’s fabric. It is located on the north-eastern side of the city center, at the intersection of local access roads and the main cycle path. It is not only used as a car parking area by the visitors to the old city center, but also as a public square for weekly markets, beer festivals or other cultural events.
Compared to the historic market square, this square is quite new and emerged in the 1970s on the site of the former brewery ‚Kulmbacher Aktienbrauerei‘. However, the surrounding buildings, which are mostly 2 to 3 story high, fail to provide an adequate sense of enclosure. Furthermore, the entrances to the underground car parking and the ‚Sutte‘ street create hindrances and weakens the spatial relation between the town hall and the square. Due to its location at the foot of the Obermain hills, the square has a direct visual connection to the Plassenburg Castle and a great potential to act as a ‚stepping stone‘ to the adjacent recreational areas.
The redevelopment concept for the central square of Kulmbach is based on three fundamental objectives. Firstly, the proportion of the square needs to be modified by placing a row of trees on Grabenstrasse. The historical spatial sequence of Grabenstrasse should also be respected. Secondly, the reorganization of the parking area and proper management of traffic will provide a better sense orientation. Lastly, the design elements should reflect the special character of the site and city‘s history, with a focus on the local brewery culture.
The proposed design is inspired from the former perimeter block development. A new green arcade forms a subtle edge, that allows pedestrian movements in all directions, and reduces the impact of the traffic (from Grabenstrasse) on the square. It also gives a sense of enclosure and a nice spatial proportion.
The tree arcade, which consists of 24 box-shaped oak trees, offers seating opportunity to the visitors. Near the town hall, a bike parking facility has also been integrated under the tree canopy. During the yearly beer festival, the furniture can be dismantled. The beige self-binding gravel creates a pleasant contrast to the green canopy.
The former parking area has been reorganised and a grid of approx. 6.2 x 3.0 m has been laid out. The individual ‘parking fields’ are made of large concrete slabs and accentuated with granite bands. For the periphery of the plaza locally available granite stone has been used. To match the stone colour, concrete slabs with different shades of black and gray have been used.
The area between the parking lot and the town hall has been developed as a shared space. The aim is to give the place a strong identity through the design, while meeting the functional requirements of a parking space. The contemporary design vocabulary of the plaza nicely complements the historic character of the old town.
A new water fountain marks the transition to the old town. The form is inspired by old brewing kettle. Water flows over a copper surface, which can be touched and played with. Even if the water is turned off in the winter, the fountain will still act as a unique element and maintain its beauty.
Architecture offices involved in the design: H2M Architekten + Stadtplaner GmbH, Kulmbach
Project location: Sutte 2, 95326 Kulmbach, Germany
Design year: 2015-2019
Year Built: 2019