The City of Hannover sought an urban vision for the remnants of its modernist era public space planning. Maxwan provided a vision for the public spaces as a whole in phase one and was asked in the second phase of the competition to specifically study the Marstall site. Currently, the space is a parking lot with open ends toward city center shopping district and the Leine River, while the long sides are bound by a residential district and a red light district. Following Hannover’s ambition to strengthen the creative economy and given its central location and its surroundings rough bite, the site is a perfect habitat for young creative people.
The clear first step was to treat the space as an extension of the city’s pedestrian network, linking it to the Leine River. The next step was to place a building on each of the ends of the space. This move gave greater definition to both the city center, the river edge, and created a well proportioned public space. This allowed for maximization in two forms, the maximum public space, but also the maximum housing units, which was a key goal for the city.
The two buildings differ greatly based on their context. The building along the river is more open to allow views out to the square/river, while the façade of building near city is more closed to create interior privacy. Meanwhile, the material of building along river is of stone in context with the surrounding buildings, while the façade of the cityside building is of more contemporary materials to match the more modern buildings in its vicinity. In both cases the plinth is more formed by walking directions, while the upper levels have a more robust form. The southern half of the riverside building is both usable as a cultural space and as shops. A common space is created on the western roof of the riverfront building for residents to sit, barbeque, drink and look over the riverfront. Additionally, the building opens up at the ground level onto a generous handicap accessible stepped terrace allowing users a place to sit and observe the riverfront, passersby, and the church dome beyond. The stepped terrace is formed as an amphitheater, ideal for small performances.
In the center of Marstall lies a multifunctional surface with a slightly tilting topography. While the ground level is slowly descending toward the river, the central surface is following the opposite slope, with its lowest point in the east and its highest point in the west. In this way, the square is transitioning from a sunken square, to an at grade passage, into a stage. Trees are preserved in certain locations to create special character, others are be moved to open up the space. The plaza is modeled for both permanent use and seasonal use. The sunken square creates a water surface in summertime and an ice surface in wintertime; the stage allows concerts, open air cinema, student fashion shows and more. The dimension of the plaza is sized for a court that could hold beach volleyball events in summer. The central space of the plaza is punctuated by two glass pavilions located on north side of plaza to activate the street, allow full view of the plaza from each end, and to frame the view toward church. They can be used as selling food or drinks in summertime, to renting ice skates in wintertime.