Editor's note

The people of Cologne got themselves a nice urban couch in a form of a waterfront by the river Rhine. Neatly designed stairs with dark stone wall, absorbing warmth from the afternoon sun (I’m guessing) offers an interesting space for hanging out, watching sun go down behind the historic centre. With its simple contrasty design, the waterfront gives a beautiful frame to some archeological findings on site and also a boring brave-man-on-a-horse statue suddenly looks more appealing, when seen from the waterfront. It appears that the Rhine Boulevard by Planorama landscape architects gives new harmony to the site and celebrates urban life, by offering access to water and a beautiful view to many from both sides of the channel.

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Planorama Landschaftsarchitektur: Through the competition Rheinboulevard Cologne´, the city of Cologne saw the opportunity to improve the district of Deutz on the east side of the river. With the hope that its improvements would help connect the right side of the Rhine bank with the city center, which had previously been divided. The competition took place in light of the urban development funding program Regional 2010. PLANORAMA won first place including the work phases  1-8 (HOAI) of the project in the 2007 european competition for the city of Cologne. The new development on the previously inaccessible banks of the Rhine are characterized by a very high an complex watercourse architecture, constructed to extensive flood protection requirements. Furthermore, archaeological finds from the construction site helped illustrate the city’s 2000 years of history and parts have been integrated into the design.

For the mediation of the project, a number of procedures for citizen participation and joint planning workshops were carried out. In July 2015, was the opening ceremony for the Rhine bank steps, since then it has become a destination for Cologne’s citizens. As the project was organized within the framework ´Regionale 2010´program, it received funding from the urban development program, in the category of supporting urban renewal.

The recovery of areas by water as recreation spaces and the creation of atmospheric places on the water is still a major challenge for many cities in Europe. With the planning and realization of the Rhine Boulevard, we believe that through means of landscape architecture alone we have created a place that has changed the relationship between the city and river in Cologne, as well as making important contribution to discussions over city´s and their river banks. The city district Deutz, previously considered the less appealing side of the river, now offers generous access to the water and a place from which to enjoy the impressive panorama of Cologne’s old town opposite Cologne´s cathedral. Attraction to the right side of the Rhine river has now been strengthened, and a public space has been created by the water, which has also served creating greater attraction to Cologne as a whole.

The construction work on the water was also a major structural engineering challenge with regard to statics and the construction process. In addition, archaeological finds from 2000 years of Cologne’s history were brought to light during the construction work, which were partly integrated into the planning, and also stimulated a discussion on how to deal with their own historic heritage. Last but not least, the Rhine Boulevard has been planned and implemented with the river bank steps which required a high demand for design details.

The project recently just won the 1st Prize of the German Landscapearchitecture Award 2017.

Landscape Architect: Planorama Landschaftsarchitektur
Project location: Rhine Boulevard / Construction Phase Hohenzollern Bridge to Deutzer Bridge / Germany / Cologne
Design year: 2008-2015
Year Built: 2013-2016

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