Experts see the high-rise master plan as a double-edged sword: the idea of high-rise limitations is fundamentally welcome, for example to protect certain residential areas, but the implementation has not yet been stringent. The problem is that certain locations are cemented for decades and can bypass the requirements.
In the last 10 years, many unimaginative concrete boxes have been created in Frankfurt, whether an architecture competition has been held or not. The skyline needs more highlights, i.e. architecture like that of the 1990s: MesseTurm, Westend 1, and Commerzbank Tower have had a lasting positive effect on Frankfurt’s image. The city would therefore be well advised not to limit the number of high-rise buildings as it has in the past, but instead to focus on the often criticized quality of architecture and its benefit for the general public. The city could also require public access to certain areas, including vertical access so that everyone can enjoy the city from premium vantage points.
You can see skyscrapers from all directions, whether from near or far. People deserve an aesthetic, livable city and do not want to look at recurring concrete blocks, but rather experience a modern urban space. Therefore, the idea behind the high-rise master plan should be: the more innovative the architecture and the greater the benefit for the general public, the more exposed the location and height of a high-rise can be.
With the high-rise development plan, the Head of the Planning Department, Mike Josef, wants to prevent speculation and create affordable living space. That is a noble goal.
Josef now apparently wants to restrict the construction of apartment towers with upscale apartments, although this is not even aimed at the same real estate customers as a cheap or subsidized apartment. The case is similar with automobiles: Porsche does not compete with a Skoda for the same customers. In this respect, a limitation from the market is at least questionable.
What FrankfurtRheinMain needs when it comes to paid housing are larger concepts, perhaps in the form of communal organization. But why should Mike Josef succeed in Frankfurt, of all places, where London failed too?
Lip service and church tower thinking do not help, but a new kind of bipartisan politics is needed. We don’t need a new residential area here and there; Frankfurt must finally live up to its unofficial metropolitan mandate. This also means that the State of Hesse and the Federal Republic of Germany must support this metropolitan function much more financially than in the past.
In this respect, it will be exciting to see which direction the 2021 high-rise development plan will take.