Advertisement. The transformation of the Gereon freight yard into the MediaPark began 30 years ago, and the Koelnmesse, Cologne's trade fair and exhibition centre, was founded almost 100 years ago. Both places represent the recent architectural and urban history of the largest city in North Rhine-Westphalia. On this tour from the Koelnmesse to the MediaPark, we will show why it is worth it to concentrate on selected places and buildings in this dense, 2000-year-old architectural cluster.
Whoever comes to Cologne for the first time sees a chaotic multiformity, through which a considerably wide river flows. The city’s puzzle-like face consists of vestiges of the Roman era, 1950s filigree, steel-and-glass towers, palatial residences with two-storey gables and this black colossus of a church that towers over everything, no matter your perspective as you toward the cathedral square. Forever and ever, amen. Cemented fast. Hardened. Immovable. Or so it was thought, since things were only built, adjusted, and expanded at and around this gothic giant. In order to avoid the heart attack caused by this teeming architecture, I suggest that those arriving by train take the exit at the KölnMesse/Deutz station (those arriving by car who wish to evade the knotty mess that is Cologne traffic should also park here). Try it, because then this place becomes an urban-Rhine landscape painting. After you have gotten a feeling for how tremendously large the exhibition centre property is, have headed past the KölnTriangle, and are standing at the Kaiser Wilhelm equestrian statue, an adjective most unusual for Cologne may come to mind—beautiful! (With an exclamation point.) To keep this sense of goodwill afloat, continue with the M&M tour (Messe & MediaPark tour). This tour consists in part of the Via Culturalis, the spiritual-cultural-political heart of things, and more so of the Via Sacra, the large ring route at the edge of Cologne’s old city, which gives the visitor a sense of how Cologne acted as a medieval metropolis. The M&M tour starts with the Koelnmesse and ends at the MediaPark; it is not always the prettiest side of the fourth-largest city in Germany, but it is certainly one of the most exciting, from an architectural point of view. Guaranteed? No, there’s too much to see for that, the distractions are too great, the roaring too vibrant. Clusters are groups, accumulations, a swarm. The architectural agglomeration is enormous. For visitors, the XXL swarm on an XXS area has an advantage: in this dense cluster-city, one can be in the Roman era one moment and in the plans of the Koelnmesse 3.0 the next. In music, the word cluster stands for a sound structure whose tones lie close to one another. Cologne, you sound good.
Koelnmesse: Huge, Forthcoming Possibilities
Rhine: Panorama and Urban Splendour
Central Train Station: Arrivals and Departures
MediaPark: Multi and More Cologne
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Founded in 1924 by the chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Koelnmesse generates more than one billion Euroin turnover per year in Cologne and the surrounding region. The company is represented in more than 100 countries. Koelnmesse is the number 1 trade-fair location for numerous industries. Visitors and exhibitors from all over the world come to Cologne in order to present the latest trends at the world’s sixth largest exhibition centre and do business worldwide. Every year, Koelnmesse organises and conducts about 80 trade fairs, exhibitions, guest events and special events in Cologne and in the most important marketsworldwide. The events regularly organised by Koelnmesse attract more than 50,000 exhibiting companies from 127 countries, as well as approximately 3 million visitors from 210 countries. The Cologne trade fair company has a more than 90-year-old history. In May 1924, opened in Cologne Deutz. During the economic miracle of post-war era, the "Rheinische Messe" rose to a global marketplace. With more than 600 million Euro, Koelnmesse 3.0 is the most comprehensive investment programme in the company’s history, which will run from 2015 to 2030. The focus will be on the modernisation of the southern section of the exhibition grounds, which cover more than 200,000 square metres. The work will include optimisation of the traffic routes and the guidance systemfor visitors. A further complex will comprise logistics and parking areas near the exhibition grounds. New buildings such as the Hall 1plus, CONFEX® and the new East-West-Terminal will give the exhibition grounds a completely new structure and a new dimension of quality.
Formerly an abandoned freight station, now an architectonically exceptional multi-cluster location - the MediaPark has without doubt become Cologne’s most important urban development project of the 1990s. The MediaPark is a multifaceted and architectonically diverse place to live and work in the heart of the cathedral city. Around 250 companies with 5,000 employees have settled here, 600 people live here. And additional 4.5 million visitors come to this urban quarter every year. International urban architecture ideas competition in 1987, winner: Prof. Dr. Eberhard Zeidler, Toronto. Landscape architect: Jürgen Schubert, Cologne.
Having spent the night in quite a few hotels for research, we recommend the NH Collection Köln MediaPark Hotel and the Hotel Chelsea. The former is part of the KölnTurm complex by Jean Nouvel and a cool, sleek business hotel. Its location in the middle of the MediaPark is a big plus. One of our favourite accommodations in Cologne is the Hotel Chelsea, with its individual, charming character. The 39-room hotel has developed into an art hotel in the 30 years of its existence. The rooms are ornamented with works from, among others, Martin Kippenberger, Andreas Schulze and Georg Dokoupil. The exterior of the Chelsea is a work of art as well. Since its renovation in 2001, a deconstructionist folded and kinked roof has grown out of the sleek 1960s building—a landmark and reference point of the Belgisches Viertel. An equally solid element of the place is the hotel’s Café Central, with good traditional fare and the butteriest breakfast croissants ever—delicious! Address: Hotel Chelsea, Jülicher Str. 1, 50674 Cologne.