Georgswall & Mayor Muller Plaza, by POLA in Aurich, Germany. There are projects that one can appreciate and comprehend their merits right away. Georgswall Park & Mayor Muller Plaza is definitely one of them. It presents very special qualities that catch one’s attention straight away. The city of Aurich, Germany, held a design competition for the area in 2008. The area contained the Mayor Muller Plaza, where the old harbor used to be, and Georgswall, the trace of the old city canal and part of the old city wall. The canal ends right on the plaza, creating a complex that demanded an overall design.
Georgswall & Mayor Muller Plaza
POLA won the competition, and its proposal for Georgswall Park & Mayor Muller Plaza has been constructed. The plaza and the adjacent area of the canal have become an important place for city life, which has been daily enjoyed by the citizens since its inauguration in 2014. The intervention is part of a wider plan for reforming the old city of Aurich and providing it with new public spaces for its citizens.
The Inspiration and Integration of Water in the Design
The presence of water in the past seems to have become a source of inspiration for the design team. Water has been introduced to the new context in various ways. There is a surface with water jets in the center of the old Canal that creates a rectangular mesh when in use. This intervention marks the entrance to the area and unites the city’s new and old urban tissue. It is also a place for fun and leisure for both children and adults.
Contrasting Surfaces Are Key to Excellent Design
The old canal edges have been maintained. However, what used to be a water surface is now a lawn. The use of vegetation in place of water awakens the past memory and allows the area to function according to its present role. The lawn surface is homogenous and alive, and provides an equal sensation in terms of scale and perception with the sensation of a water surface.
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The third and most poetic use of water has been allocated where the old harbor edge used to be, on Mayor Muller Plaza. Four pools evoke the memory of the old harbor. The pools have been placed in front of a group of old buildings. These particular buildings used to be right before the waterfront. The designer’s intention is to return the water’s edge near them and thus create a symbolic presence of their old context.
Inside the four pools on Mayor Muller Plaza have been placed huge fonts. The letters in the bottom of each pool shape the words “OLL HAVEN AUERK”, which means Old Harbor Aurich in Low German. The fonts have been merged in the water to emphasize the fact that the harbor has been, in some way, sunken.
Understanding the Layout
Tree rows spread along the plaza, forming shaded areas and places for resting, meeting, and playing. The trees create a screen along Georgswall Park that underlines its linearity. The surrounding existing vegetation forms a soft transition toward the plaza and the park. Along the Georgswall Canal, there are playgrounds for children of different ages. There are also benches that face toward the canal, resembling the reverie in front of the absent water’s edge.
Learning to Work With the Details You Cannot See
Working in a place with a certain historical context could become tricky. Evading the trap of creating scenery rather than space while working with memory and heritage could prove very challenging. I believe the safe path toward this direction is abstraction. Using less to achieve more, enhancing functionality while not losing the meaning of the site.
An Excellent Example of Instilling a Sense of Meaning in the Design
One could also follow an approach that is too abstract. This could lead to under-designed spaces that do not convey any meaning and do not serve the purpose they have been designed for. Georgswall Park & Mayor Muller Plaza is an excellent example of meaningful abstraction and design integrity. An added value to this project is the use of actual words in order to awake the memory. This is hard to achieve without becoming too literal. The placing of fonts horizontally helps the visitor avoid misinterpreting them for some sort of signage. Also, placing the fonts under water creates a certain distance and reveals that they bring a message from the past. The landscape design quality of Georgswall Park & Mayor Muller Plaza makes one think how profound and poetic landscape architecture can become. Do you perceive it the same way?
Full Project Credits For Georgswall & Mayor Muller Plaza
Project Name: Project Name: Georgswall & Mayor Muller Plaza Designers: POLA Location: Aurich, Germany Area: 1.65 ha Date of Completion: 2014 Construction Duration: 2012-2014 Budget: 4,3 Mio. EUR Client: City of Aurich Designers: POLA Location: Aurich, Germany Area: 1.65 ha Date of Completion: 2014 Construction Duration: 2012-2014 Budget: 4,3 Mio. EUR Client: City of Aurich Recommended Reading:
- Urban Design by Alex Krieger
- The Urban Design Handbook: Techniques and Working Methods (Second Edition) by Urban Design Associates
Article by Eleni Tsirintani Return to HomepagePublished in