In the Northwest of Frankfurt – on a spacious former agricultural area - a new city quarter is being built. “Am Riedberg” is to house some 15,000 residents and workers. The competition for the 7.5 hectare Boniface Park, held in 2001, called for an initiating design to set this urban development off.
The point of departure for design considerations was conceptualizing the possible role of a public park in the realm of a typical one family and terraced house settlement. How can or should public open space relate to private ground; or which kind of aesthetic would answer to the small scale and variety of this kind of urban structures?
The central focus in designing Boniface Park was on generating an articulate spatial gesture identifiable for the future inhabitants, i.e. a park characterized by a clear structure, open vistas and large open spaces. Boniface Park was conceived to be a relieving complement to the surrounding small-scale structured residential area – and thus to essentially serve as an integrative and representative element of the new quarter.
The design for Boniface Park is to be read as a contemporary interpretation of the traditional landscape park. A broadly oscillating main-path leads through the park, while the adjacent residential quarters are connected by secondary crosscuts. The main-path is in large parts accompanied by wide rain-water retention and infiltration ditches to accommodate storm-water from the adjacent residential area.
The park encompasses generous, quiet lawn areas which are spatially framed by a dynamic juxtaposition of strict lines and freely distributed groups of trees. The spatial coherency and longitudinal drive of the park gesture - even across a main traffic road which splits the park – is established through a linear structure of concisely planted maples linking the eastern and the western part of the park. The maples (Acer Platanoides 'Eurostar') are the major tree of the hole park especially chosen because of their spectacular colour in autum.
The promenade lining the northern border of the park is a constituent part of this coherency as well. Featuring an impressively dimensioned retaining wall of sand-stone and lime-sand-stone the promenade is the proper backbone of the park. From this spine the impressive hillside topography as much as the goings-on in the park can be observed.
The foot of the wall is rhythmically lined with benches of natural stone and with water dispensers which spouts the surface water from the promenade. The promenade itself is being accompanied by nicely blooming haws (Sorbus aria 'Magnifica'). These trees were chosen especially because of their beautiful spring-aspect.
At the western end of the promenade the walls have a stately height of some five metres. Here a wide staircase leads down to the central square of the park, obviously mediating between the two levels of the park, and serving simultaneously as a place of movement and rest. At the bottom of the stairs, in the essential centre of the park, all elements typical of Boniface Park come together. Meeting at a large square, freely distributed groups of trees announce the more open landscape type of the western part (with among others fagus silvatica, ginko biloba, liriodendron tulipifera, quercus rubor, amelanchier lamarckii). The strict lines of maple set off from here to open vistas and guide the views towards the eastern part of the park.
Bordering the square on the south is the historically significant and name giving Boniface Fountain – set in a group of existing trees and shrubs. In the year 754 St. Boniface’s corpse was brought from Mainz to Fulda. The trek had a nightly stopover in the Northeast of Frankfurt, near Kalbach. According to the legend a source sprung from this place the next morning and was later girded as a fountain.
The redesign of the fountain – within the conception of the overall park – aimed at creating a place for individual silence and devotion. Simultaneously the site was required to offer space and seats for a larger number of worshippers during religious events.
The fountain-site now consists of a larger paved square with a framing, atrium-like seating area. At the centre of this square the fountain is set into the surface like an open chamber. The seating walls of the atrium and those of the fountain chamber are uniformly clad with light, fine-grained granite and are characterized by an uncompromisingly strict grid of the masonry joints. The balustrade of dark coated steel contrasts the light appearance of the granite of the fountain. In its offset and composition it relates to the classic triptych form in religious representation.