St. Pankratius Square

Oberhausen, Germany

In a winning entry for a competition to bring new life to a historic church yard in downtown Oberhausen, AE7 opened up the site to make the most of existing conditions and create a dynamic community space. The church is neighbored by working-class housing and located only blocks from the city’s commercial core. AE7 removed rows of tall hedges to make space for a flexible, open, multi-use lawn at the heart of the design. With enhanced connectivity, a palette of local plants, and colorful structures that allow visitors to play and relax, the site now has the capacity to support events that the church and community both desired.

The AE7 design imbued the site with a sense of playfulness and possibility. A colorful playground structure serves as a centerpiece to an open space that had previously been hidden behind hedges. Hardscape plazas alongside the lawn support gatherings small and large, and terraced seating on a prominent corner of the site creates a small amphitheater or hangout spot for local teenagers. To keep the area flexible, moveable circular planters with built-in seating can be arranged to accommodate tents and food trucks.

Out of respect for the historic nature of the site, AE7 maintained or reused existing site features wherever possible. In response to grade changes, for example, AE7 integrated benches into an existing platform overlooking the lawn. The team upgraded the church’s planters to provide additional security and buffer noise from the busy road. AE7 created vistas of local, low-maintenance plantings to open views across the site, frame seating areas, and provide sheltering shade to create a lively new microclimate in the urban neighborhood.

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