Set against the backdrop of the Frankfurt skyline,Mahan Rykiel Associates designed the Skyline Plaza's Roof Garden to be a destination for a wide variety of passive and active events, including playgrounds, a chess board, table tennis, foosball, petanque (boules) field, putting green, small vineyard, and performance stage. A meandering path reflects the curvilinear form of the architecture; it weaves large active-use areas with smaller seating areas, and a broad promenade connects the elevator lobby with restaurants and play spaces.
Skyline Plaza is a shopping center in the heart of Frankfurt's new convention center district, an urban magnet for an estimated 30,000 workers and 10,000 residents. Nearly 180 specialty stores, service companies, and restaurants are located here. The Skyline Plaza celebrated its grand opening on 29th August 2013. The Skyline Garden is one of the main attractions of this ultra-modern shopping centre is its "fifth façade". Availing itself of some 7,300 sq/m of open-air floor space, this superb rooftop location is unique in all of Germany. Built according to the ideas and plans of the architects of the ECE and in collaboration with the architects' offices of Die LandschaftsArchitekten. Bittkau-Bartfelder + Ing. GbR (Wiesbaden, Germany) and Mahan Rykiel Associates (Baltimore, USA), the Skyline Garden features a forward-looking open-plan structure with diverse attractions for people of all ages.
While designing and landscaping the Skyline Plaza's "fifth façade", landscape architects made sure that the Skyline Garden would remain cultivated throughout the entire year. The garden's Mediterranean atmosphere is the direct result of the vegetation and materials selected. The rooftop landscape also has a positive influence on the microclimate: The water evaporation caused by plant life increases air-moisture levels and thus helps to lower temperatures. Moreover, particulate matter and other airborne particles are filtered naturally. The dense vegetation, featuring – amongst others – pine, sycamore and Himalayan birch trees, provides not only a balanced climate, but also added value for the wellbeing of visitors and the cityscape as a whole. The large trees, many of which were already seven to eight metres tall at the time of planting, are quick to fulfil their spatial and ecological functions.
Irrigation of the Skyline Garden is achieved entirely through rainwater, which is taken from a large cistern holding a maximum of 265,000 litres. This amount corresponds approximately to a third of the water content of a 25-metre swimming pool. A further advantage of the cistern is that it helps to reduce rainwater runoff, which in turn takes some pressure off the local canalisation system, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The rooftop landscape is one of the key points of the Skyline Plaza's "Gold Certification" endeavours, the certificate being issued only upon an object's full adherence to the rigid guidelines of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). The chances are looking very good, however, with the rooftop landscape project having already received the council's preliminary gold certification.
The Skyline Garden is characterised in particular by the many possibilities available to its visitors. The garden's core is made up of a restaurant and its two individually designed terraces, which invite guests to enjoy magnificent views of the Frankfurt skyline during times of fine weather. With its spacious indoor and outdoor areas, the restaurant offers diners some 1,600 sq/m of restaurant space.
To accommodate families with children, the Skyline Garden has two playgrounds with monkey bars, a jungle gym and a sandbox, allowing the little ones to play and frolic within sight of the restaurant's outdoor terrace.
A network of paths leading through the garden allows for interesting walks amidst changing natural sceneries. The garden courtyards provide ample seating for short breaks, being connected by way of a large pergola, which offers protection from the elements.
An elevated terrace overlooking Europa Boulevard forms the highpoint of the garden. From here, the views of the Main metropolis are particularly impressive. Visitors keen for a bit of action have a variety of sports opportunities to choose from, including a life-sized chessboard, ping-pong tables, football tables and a boules pitch. Golf enthusiasts will even find a putting green, while a small event stage hosts regular live performances. A spacious lawn in front of the stage provides plenty of room for interested audiences.
A highly unexpected feature of the Skyline Garden is its "urban vineyard" – a small wine growing area situated in the center of the rooftop. Here, in the heart of Frankfurt, grapes will soon be harvested. Meanwhile, those seeking physical and spiritual balance have a separate corner of the Skyline Garden to themselves for practicing yoga or Thai chi.
Certain sections of the Skyline Garden may be hired for special events in co-operation with Restaurant ALEX, offering spectacular settings for corporate functions, product presentations, private parties and the like. Another separate outdoor area on the rooftop, some 1,500 sq/m in size, has been set aside for the Meridian Spa, whose fitness and wellness offers provide yet another highlight of the Skyline Plaza.
Images 1-8 courtesy of Mahan Rykiel Associates.
Photography shot exclusively for Shapedscape. © SB / Shapedscape 2014.