Chapman Taylor has been unanimously chosen to create a new quarter within the medieval town centre of Aachen, Germany. The quarter, known locally as Altstadtquartier Büchel (which means ‘Old Town Quarter’), covers a 3ha site immediately adjacent to Aachen’s cathedral, one of the original 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The international urban design competition, sought to redesign the existing urban fabric and introduce new streets, public squares, housing, office, retail and a kindergarten to create a thriving new district.
The nine judges for the competition made up of international architects, urban planners and politicians unanimously chose the Chapman Taylor design, praising it for the design of public spaces, the thoughtful treatment of the surroundings and its potential to offer a new and strong identity for Aachen. The jury singled out the “good mix of uses, clear articulation and strong connections well beyond the immediate competition area”.
Most of scheme will be made up of new buildings, although there are some listed buildings that will be retained. Because the site is within a buffer zone around World Heritage Site Aachen Cathedral, the scheme will need to comply with the historic building authorities regulations, for instance the façades will reflect the original small plot sizes (narrow building fronts), views to the cathedral will be preserved and the medieval street pattern will be retained. Due to Aachen’s spa heritage, thermal spring water will be bought back to the surface in the form of fountains. As the quarter is called the ‘Old Town Quarter’, the new quarter will also have the spatial qualities and charm of the Old Town.
Aachen is the westernmost city of Germany and is a spa and border town close to Belgium and Netherlands. It was a residence of Charlemagne ‘King to the Franks’ who laid the foundations for modern day France and Germany. It was also later the coronation place for all German kings.
The first round of the competition was anonymous but it is known international practices from the Netherlands, Spain, Austria and Germany also submitted competition entries.
Work is due to commence in 2018.