Colonization of the city center

Gera (DE) - Lauréat


Représentant d'équipe : Marc Torras Montfort (ES) – architecte ; Associée: Annelie Seemann (DE) – architecte
Collaborateur : Vincenza La Rocca (IT) – architecte

Seemann – Torras Architektur, Hufelandstrasse 10407 Berlin – Deutschland
+49 174 986 9064 – -

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A. Seemann & M. Torras Montfort


INTERVIEW en anglais
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1. How did you form the team for the competition?

The team consists of Annelie Seemann and Marc Torras Montfort, partners of the Office Seemann – Torras Architektur, founded in 2014 and located in Berlin. Architect Vincenza la Rocca (IT) contributed to the realization of the competition.

2. How do you define the main issue of your project, and how did you answer on this session main topic: Adaptability through Self-Organization, Sharing and/or Project (Process)?

Since the city of Gera has a limited budget to invest into the urban development, the concept of the project “Colonization of the city centre” is based on the idea to develop the district in sections and in constant collaboration with the citizens.
The project shows a first step of development, not a completely finished version. This phase consists in the location of three new buildings connected by a middle path, which articulates the plot and sets the first step for the future development. Temporary uses –such as container garages, private gardens, playgrounds, an open summer cinema and a beer garden– complete the first phase and offer the possibility of a low-cost upgrade of the entire area.
The first phase represents a first step for the new Gera’s city centre. The citizens will decide how and in which way it evolves. In our proposal we show two possible future scenarios. The first one shows the establishment of the first step by the acceptance of the temporary uses by the citizens of Gera. The second one represents a future development, where the increasing use of the place by the population brings more investment in form of new buildings and new uses, but still keeping the character of the developing process.


3. How did this issue and the questions raised by the site mutation meet?

The area in the centre of Gera was initially shaped by the hasty reconstruction after the Second World War, which was then followed by hasty demolition measures and construction after the fall of the Wall. At that point various concepts tried to redesign the whole plot in one intervention and failed due to the lack of investment and the demographic decrease. As a result, the competition area is now a large empty space, surrounded by large cubic buildings such us shopping centres, flats, the Kongresszentrum and the Stadtmuseum.
This context brought us to the fragmentary idea. If we want to revive the place we have to do it step by step and in tightly collaboration with the citizens by deciding how and in what way it takes place.


4. Have you treated this issue previously? What were the reference projects that inspired yours?

We find some approaches to urban acupuncture theory in terms of reactivation of an existing area trough the implementation of new uses/spaces in already existing frameworks.


5. Today –at the era of economic crisis and sustainability– the urban-architectural project should reconsider its production method in time; how did you integrate this issue in your project?

Our proposal is by itself a process-project. The progressive development within a pre-established basic framework allows small cities with less resources to develop in a sustainable and democratic way.

6. Is it the first time you have been awarded a prize at Europan? How could this help you in your professional career?

Yes, it is the first time. Receiving a Europan award is for young architects like us encouraging, since we worked with heart and mind in order to offer a viable solution for the city. We would be very glad to be part of the implementation of this project.