Kurt-Hackenberg-Platz, Cologne

Listen, Drink, Savor

Client 
City of Cologne
Design/Construction
2014–2016/2016–2018
Project status 
realized
Surface area 
3 600m2
Country 
Germany

Kurt-Hackenberg-Platz is a square located in the center of Cologne. Situated between the Romano- Germanic Museum, the Philharmonie concert hall, and Museum Ludwig with its collection of contemporary art, the former Bishop’s Garden with the silhouette of Cologne Cathedral in the background was, for many years, a bleak leftover area in the urban fabric. The new “Garden of Eden” with its sparsely planted Japanese pagoda trees, which are well suited to the city’s climate, bears reference to the history of the site, while two elements in the public space indicate its present-day usage: a long stone bench made of local graywacke sandstone that frames the garden and a drinking fountain cast in bronze. And yet when it comes to something as basic as drinking, we are in two minds about it—a sign put in later certified the good quality of the water. 

As soon as we bend down to drink, we hear strange noises from beneath the ground. A resonating body with integrated acoustic elements uses the water flowing from the fountain as its “player”. In both material and sensory terms, the funnel-like ear trumpet and the water bowl refer to the tradition and craft of bell casting. In the past, drinking places were central meeting points in a city and are embedded as such in our collective memory. Today, however, free access to drinking water is no longer taken for granted. The project is focused, then, not only on reinstilling a sense of how to use this resource with care but also on restoring one of the key functions of any public space. 

© Florian Holzherr