Hallen Allee

Open International Architecture Competition Multihalle – Democratic Umbrella


The Multihalle was built from 1974 to 1975 for the National Garden Show in Mannheim. For the competition entry a central urban avenue is created to activate a metropolitan field with the most dynamic coexistence of activities. The mutual interference of the Allee and the activities will generate a stimulating chain reaction of unprecedented events: “as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”

A social space where the public can interact in new ways, endlessly stimulating their creativity and broadening their knowledge. A continuation of Frei Otto’s ambition of a happy cultural landscape for a peaceful open society in harmony with itself and with nature.

The Multihalle’s roof has enough powerful symbolism to become a democratic umbrella, yet the real wonders of Mannheim are its inhabitants. It is always about the people. People make places and create new identities. The Allee introduces a continuous urban stream to enjoy the varied collection of halls. The Allee can play a leading role, because it creates spaces where people can meet, and it mobilizes the collective exploration of knowledge.

Along the Allee, four urban catalysts are strategically positioned as fixed gravity points enabling people to transform the halls into active social condensers. Each of the catalysts explores the
potential of different adaptative elements to promote unique interactions with users and public space.

1 The tent /square: exploring the potential of the facades parallel to the Allee.
2 The platform – foyer: exploring the potential of the floors above the Allee.
3 The slab – atrium: exploring the potential of the walls facing the Allee.
4 The roof – stage: exploring the potential of the roof on the Allee.

Their modest size of intervention, beyond a conscious use of resources, becomes a strategy to free large spaces for creative use and interpretation. Emptiness as a vital quality, always open for
improvisations and diversity. The power of the halls resides in the capacity to absorb a perpetual state of revision since openness is a civic ideal, constantly renegotiable.

In continuation of Frei Otto’s fundamental approach, the new intervention will focus on resource saving and passives solutions. Minimal intervention points, plus reusing of materials. The smart organization of program creates the possibility to use parts of the program independently yet sharing the basic facilities. The ideal garden is a hybrid system. It is simultaneously a public park, a system of outdoor spaces and a mix of landscapes. While we also use four levels of climate comfort: heated, semi-heated, covered and outdoor.

Location Mannheim, Germany
Client Multihalle Mannheim e.V. Association
Design PEÑA architecture + COFO architects
Architect Gabriel Peña + Guillem Colomer
Images PEÑA architecture + COFO architects
Gross area 2000 m2 building and 40000 m2 park
Status First Prize 2019

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