Architect & Developer

A NEW NEIGHBOR­HOOD IN THE SKYLINE

Ben van Berkel and his team at UNStudio are faced with the challenge of reconnecting to the city an area that has been separated from urban life for decades. With his four towers, architect Ben van Berkel creates an inspiring ensemble – but also a multifunctional quarter that enlivens the inner city. A new neighborhood is being created for the whole of Frankfurt.

BEN VAN BERKEL

The architect Ben van Berkel on invisible challenges and why FOUR is a very special project for him personally.

Interview: Ben van Berkel

BEN VAN BERKEL
The Dutch architect realizes projects worldwide.

“With subtle bends and shifts, we create dynamic, spatial and visual relationships between the four towers.”

Ben van Berkel, UNStudio

Mr. van Berkel, what is the United Network at UNStudio?

We understand it to mean a network of specialists. In addition to architects, we work with artists, neuroscientists and a data analyst to develop our ideas. Our goal is to integrate as broad an intelligence as possible and thereby let our projects grow.

With the FOUR project, you say it's not just about the towers, it's about reviving a neighborhood. How do you approach such a project?

I call our approach clockwise planning. We contemplate how people spend their days. When do they get up, which ways do they go, which infrastructure do they use, where do they stay? From this we deduce what rooms we must create to ensure people feel comfortable in FOUR.

What significance does the project have for you personally?

In our design concept, we are talking about a city for everyone. Our planning is aimed at a balanced mixture of work, living, relaxation and recreation. We are building new connecting paths, passages and squares within the site in order to reconnect the area with the city center. The infrastructure proposed by us creates a new network of paths between the banking district, Roßmarkt, Kaiserplatz and the shopping streets of Goethestraße, all the way to the Alte Oper. The financial district and the city center are growing together again.

ARNHEM CENTRAL STATION, NETHERLANDS 2015
Arnhem railway station is one of the ambitious projects of UNStudios. More than 20 years were spent planning and building until the station was reopened in 2015, featuring revolutionary form and function. There is hardly a comparable complex architectural project in all of Europe.
RAFFLES CITY, CHINA 2008
This modern and sustainable urban hub brings work, home and life together. In Hangzhou, one of China's most prosperous cities.

And how do you answer this question?

In our design concept, we are talking about a city for everyone. Our planning is aimed at a balanced mixture of work, living, relaxation and recreation. We are building new connecting paths, passages and squares within the site in order to reconnect the area with the city center. The infrastructure proposed by us creates a new network of paths between the banking district, Roßmarkt, Kaiserplatz and the shopping streets of Goethestraße, all the way to the Alte Oper. The financial district and the city center are growing together again.

You speak of a city for all. How can the public use the area?

The site will have many publicly accessible areas, such as an impressive roof garden, a town square, a daycare center, two hotels, a food hall, numerous restaurants and shops. These offers in the podium attract people to the new district and considerably increase the quality of life in the city center.

“We contemplate how people spend their days. When do they get up, where do they go, what infrastructure do they use, where are they staying?”

Ben van Berkel

How do you distribute offices, apartments, restaurants, cafés and hotels among the towers?

Two towers are designed for residential purposes and long stays, including a proportion of subsidized and price-reduced apartments, in order to achieve a mix of milieus. The other two towers will house offices, and a hotel will open in the podium. The towers will completely frame the central square. The listed facades of Junghofstrasse will be integrated and retained. The different orientation and heights of the four towers create variations within the skyline, together with subtle bends and shifts in the individual buildings, we create dynamic spatial and visual relationships between the four towers.

FOUR changes the famous skyline of the city?

I say we enrich the skyline. The almost sculptural family of towers creates the unique impression of a coherent neighborhood within the skyline and underscores the importance of this district.

Gross & Partner

One Forty West, Frankfurt am Main 2020
A home high in the air – on the site of the former AfE Tower in the Westend district, a unique residential tower is being built in the immediate vicinity of the Frankfurt Trade Fair Centre. The building is part of the Frankfurt Culture Campus.

THE CUBE, Deutsche Börse Group, Eschborn 2010
The eye-catching feature of this 21-story building is the 83-meter-high foyer: 19 bridges connect the two L-shaped structures to form the center of the group’s headquarters.

THE SPIN, FRANKFURT AM MAIN 2022
This angular high-rise will add a new landmark to Mainzer Landstraße at the corner of Güterplatz. The tower, designed by Hadi Teherani, is located between the central business district as well as the the Europe and Railway Station districts. It combines 32 floors of first-class office space with a stylish 4-star-plus hotel.

Hightlights &
Key facts

UNIQUE PROJECTS

Groß & Partner’s know-how is the result of the perfect interaction of the best architects, engineers, construction specialists and marketing specialists. Over the past few years, we have implemented numerous unusual developments in neighborhoods throughout Germany. FOUR joins this list of ambitious and unique projects.

The company

  • Founded: 1992 in Berlin
  • Employees: 238
  • Built-up square meters since 1985: 1.4 million
  • Projects realized: 94
  • Managing Director: Jürgen Groß, Nikolaus Bieber, Peter Matteo, Martin Hahn, Jens Hausmann

REFERENCES

  • One Forty West
  • The Docks
  • Ma’ro
  • Westhafen Quartier
  • The Spin
  • Gateway Gardens
  • Überseequartier in Hamburg
  • Headquarter of Deutsche Börse Group, Eschborn (first office building with Leed Platinum certification)

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Current pictures of the construction site and FOUR's construction progress.