Home » Giant apartment blocks to spell out the word HOME in a former U.S army barracks in Germany

Giant apartment blocks to spell out the word HOME in a former U.S army barracks in Germany

by Press room

They say there’s no place like home – and this new residential development certainly echoes that sentiment.

A new housing project in the Franklin Mitte neighbourhood of the German city of Mannheim will transform a former U.S army barracks with four apartment blocks shaped as the letters H-O-M-E.

The O-shaped apartments in the building are currently on the market and sales for some of the residences have already closed. However, construction of the tower has yet to break ground – it’s scheduled for completion in 2025.

A new housing project in the Franklin Mitte neighbourhood of the German city of Mannheim will transform a former U.S army barracks with four apartment blocks shaped as the letters H-O-M-E (shown above in a rendering)

The apartments in the building shaped like the letter 'O' (shown in the above rendering) are currently on the market, and sales for some of the residences have already closed

The apartments in the building shaped like the letter ‘O’ (shown in the above rendering) are currently on the market, and sales for some of the residences have already closed

The 41-hectare (101-acre) site for the project housed the Benjamin Franklin Village army barracks until its closure in 2012.

Dutch architecture firm MVRDV came up with the idea for the ‘home’-shaped apartment blocks, and drew up the designs for the ‘O’ and ‘M’ building. The ‘H’ and ‘E’ buildings will be designed by different architecture firms. 

Sharing the inspiration behind the project, which has been ongoing since 2014, MVRDV says: ’The letters H-O-M-E offered the perfect solution for creating a shape that was both symbolic and could also provide the required housing needed.’

The English word ‘home’ was chosen for three reasons – it’s ‘inviting for all new residents’, it’s a nod to the site’s U.S heritage, and it symbolises how Mannheim – a trading city that dates back to the 1600s – ‘was built as a welcoming place for all, despite language or religion’.

The vibrant high-rises are designed to be seen from a distance. The 15-storey blue brick ‘O’ tower, which spans 12,380 sq metres (133,257 sq ft), will contain 120 residences. Colourful glass balconies will dot the exterior and commercial units will occupy the base.

The 41-hectare (101-acre) site for the project housed the Benjamin Franklin Village army barracks until its closure in 2012. Above is one of the buildings in the barracks, photographed in 2019. Pictured courtesy of Creative Commons

The 41-hectare (101-acre) site for the project housed the Benjamin Franklin Village army barracks until its closure in 2012. Above is one of the buildings in the barracks, photographed in 2019. Pictured courtesy of Creative Commons

The construction of the 'O' building, shown in a rendering, isn’t expected to be complete until 2025

The construction of the ‘O’ building, shown in a rendering, isn’t expected to be complete until 2025

There will be a public terrace in the hole in the middle of the 'O' building, accessed by a public stairway

There will be a public terrace in the hole in the middle of the ‘O’ building, accessed by a public stairway

The 17,890-sq-metre (192,566-sq-ft) ‘M’ tower - shown in a rendering - will feature 185 apartments, each with balconies

The 17,890-sq-metre (192,566-sq-ft) ‘M’ tower – shown in a rendering – will feature 185 apartments, each with balconies

There will be a public terrace in the hole in the middle of the ‘O’ tower, which can be accessed by a public stairway. From here, residents can visit the bar on the building’s fourth floor.

Meanwhile, the 17,890-sq-metre (192,566-sq-ft) ‘M’ tower will feature 185 apartments, each with balconies, and there will be tennis courts on the roof. 

They will each be built around a ‘green’ hill that’s made from demolished barracks buildings.

The buildings will each be built around a ‘green’ hill that’s made from demolished barracks buildings

The buildings will each be built around a ‘green’ hill that’s made from demolished barracks buildings

The tower blocks won’t be the only new addition to the neighbourhood – more low-rise buildings will be built on the site, based on the design of the residential buildings that were part of the military barracks and have since been demolished. These buildings will have a stucco facade with glass walls and will contain a library and commercial spaces.

Other amenities in the neighbourhood will include shops, restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, a doctor’s clinic, pharmacy and community spaces.

MVRDV says that the new scheme could offer a ‘new reason for aspiring families to move to Franklin Mitte’.

More low-rise buildings will be built on the site, based on the design of the residential buildings that were part of the military barracks and have since been demolished

More low-rise buildings will be built on the site, based on the design of the residential buildings that were part of the military barracks and have since been demolished

Other amenities in the neighbourhood will include shops, restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, a doctor’s clinic, pharmacy and community spaces

Other amenities in the neighbourhood will include shops, restaurants, cafes, a supermarket, a doctor’s clinic, pharmacy and community spaces

Describing the ‘O’ high-rise, Winy Maas, the founding partner of MVRDV, said: ‘By itself, the “O” is an exciting and friendly building at the heart of Franklin Mitte, with terraces and plazas that embrace the liveliness that is coming to this area. 

‘But it is even more exciting in how it becomes a part of the city. Working with the H, M, and E buildings, it will give Franklin Mitte a strong, unique identity: Welcome!’

And the CEO of RVI – the developer behind the ‘O’ building – Carsten Buschmann, said: ‘Not often in real estate development do you get the chance to build a true landmark project. Being part of the HOME skyline involves taking calculated risks and it inspires us to venture beyond the beaten track. Working with MVRDV on the “O” has expanded our understanding of what is possible in urban development.’

A bird's-eye view of Mannheim. MVRDV says that the new scheme could offer a ‘new reason for aspiring families to move' to the city's Franklin Mitte neighbourhood

A bird’s-eye view of Mannheim. MVRDV says that the new scheme could offer a ‘new reason for aspiring families to move’ to the city’s Franklin Mitte neighbourhood 

This isn’t MVRDV’s first off-the-wall project – the firm also designed an incredible mirrored tower block in Amsterdam, a colourful ‘Valley of Eden’ in Armenia, and a ‘Balancing Barn’ holiday home in Suffolk.

And, it was behind the controversial Marble Arch Mound in London, which was torn down in January following months of criticism. However, MVRDV defended the design, blaming the Westminster council’s ‘loveless execution’ of the project for its failure. 

For more information, visit www.mvrdv.com.  

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