Team Representative: Dr. Simon Gehrmann (DE) – architect; Associates: Roderich Eßmann (DE), Robin Thomä (DE), Margarita Vollmer (DE) – students in architecture
Scherben Bringen Glück – firstname.lastname@example.org
R. Thomae, M. Vollmer, Dr. S. Gehrmann, R. Eßmann - © R. Eßmann
VIDEO (by the team)
1. How did you form the team for the competition?
We were informed by the TU-Darmstadt about the announcement of Europan 15 in Selb. The elaboration of the competition became a common interest. Since every team member is working at the same university, we quickly formed our workgroup.
2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: the place of productive activities within the city?
Selb has always been a productive city with a special link between living and producing. Due to the industrial crisis of the 1990s, Selb lost this balance and subsequently a part of its identity. It is important to us that the heritage of Selb connected to the material of porcelain is reestablished. In the long term Selb could be able to regain international reputation for ceramic products and materials research.
The project “Scherben bringen Glück - Das Produktive Herzstück für Selb“ represents a counterbalance to the actual development of the city of Selb, that is mainly driven by the construction of a big outlet centre built to stimulate consumption.
The design focuses on the creation of a specialized educational space in Selb, taking up the heritage of the porcelain industry of the city by including the experiences and the knowledge of the citizens about ceramic materials. At the same time, the design celebrates the idea of promoting the Friendship Weeks of Selb (DE) and Asch (CZ) in 2023. Therefore, the open space is translated into a promenade that connects Bavaria and the Czech Republic.
We were intended to enhance the creative and productive area with public communication spaces, multigeneration households and family houses to get a mixed structure on the whole project site.
3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?
The station area of Selb is a missing link to an adequately interwoven city. Currently, the area can be described as neglected. Birch groves have grown within the railroad tracks. Still, the site is geographically ideally situated for the implementation of a productive location. More precisely, it is located in a triangle between residential districts, industrial districts and the city centre and is well connected in terms of transportation. The historical importance of the railway station with its connection to the industrial heritage of Selb, as well as the unique green structure which can be found there today, exemplify a vast variety of potentials.
4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?
Reconnecting means of production with the dense city is a relevant urban planning topic that has also concerned past projects of ours. In recent years, we have mainly dealt with it on building level by working on student projects that aimed to combine residential use and urban production within one typology. Therefore, a certain basic knowledge was already available. However, the transition from the scale of a single building to a whole urban composition was a new challenge.
5. Urban-architectural projects like the ones in Europan can only be implemented together with the actors through a negotiated process and in time. How did you consider this issue in your project?
The development concept can be realized at building level and at free space level. In the beginning, the promenade of friendship will be built as part of the Bavarian-Czech Friendship Weeks 2023 to promote cross-border relations between the neighbouring cities of Asch and Selb. Local interest groups can form an association to participate in the construction of the productive centrepiece. Thanks to the European funding program Interreg Europe the district could be funded in the field of research + innovation. With the support of the association Keramisches Herzstück e.V., a high level of knowledge about and interest in ceramics will become relevant again.
6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?
This is the first time we participated at Europan. Luckily our competition design was able to attract the attention of Selb city officials, as we are currently developing a possible implantation of the design within the next three years. In case of a successful collaboration this could turn out to be the possibility to actually realise our first project, which we are very thankful for.
Average age of the associates: 27 years old
Has your team, together or separately, already conceived or implemented some projects and/or won any competition? If yes, which ones?
Robin Thomä has already worked on the international student competition “designing resilience in Asia 2017” (DRIA) with Dr. Simon Gehrmann as a mentor. The participation was rewarded with an honourable mention and a presentation in Singapore. Simon Gehrmann who has also participated in DRIA 2015 & 2016 has been awarded with the first prize twice.
Margarita, Roderich and Robin have got to know each other due to the mutual intertest in participating at Europan 15. Our working relationship that became a friendship was forged by the competition project. It is our most successful personal project yet.