The new town square in Gummersbac

 

Gummersbach is the chief town of its district, Oberberg, which it runs with creditable efficiency: the economy flour­ishes. The prosperity of this town of 50,000 inhabitants 50 kilometres east of Cologne has been on a solid basis from time immemorial. A small-scale, balanced mixture of industry, trade, agriculture and services has always pro­duced – to express it positively – self­confident people. But this had unfor­tunate consequences for the central Lindenplatz in the 1960s. In an act of bold self-overestimation, examples of medieval timber-frames, classicism and Jugendstil were all pulled down and replaced with dreary progressive build­ings completely surrounded by concrete slabs, everything grey on grey. And life gradually disappeared from the town centre. Now the town wants to get away from the dreary image conveyed by these buildings without any sense of scale, style or category, but they are not as easily pulled down as their predeces­sors. And so in the mid-1990s people concentrated all the more on the squa­res and walkways in the pedestrian area. And because a large number of indivi­duals have an interest in these areas in particular, representatives from the local authority, the residents and the service and retail industries were invited to a discussion about new design ideas. The participants in the discussion quickly agreed on a modern water land­scape. Symbolically this was seen to stand for movement, and possibly also change, uniqueness and something that was most convincing of all for the peo­ple of Gummersbach: a place where people would come to meet each other again. And they do.

One place that appeals, for example, is by the spring, with its fan-shaped, sculpted natural stone slabs, with lights between them to create mysterious areas of light and shade in the twilight. From there the water flows down a slight slope through a curved channel

 

Hands and feet can be used to touch and grasp water structures and currents – an experience for all the senses, and for the young and old.

 

The new town square in Gummersbac

Plan and detail view of the sculpted installations.

 

Plan of the watercourse source: Water gushes forth from stone slabs set at different angles.

 

Carefully designed handling of waves and light transforms an ordinary object into sparkling jewels.

 

The new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in Gummersbac

The new town square in Gummersbac

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The new town square in Gummersbac

The inlaid glass is lit by fibre optics.

 

towards Lindenplatz, guided by round prefabricated concrete units and run­ning over cascades; on the way it dis­appears briefly underground, to provide a roadway for delivery traffic and rhythm to the running water. At the top of the square the water runs under an artistically punched-out covering into a jagged pool walled in natural stone. Long steps intended for people to sit on thrust out from the jagged pool into the square. In the pool the water flows over a surface that is designed with great variety, with little mounted bronze waves, for example, or shallow, curved cascades that create exciting patterns in the current. Floodlights plunge the water into a scene that is strange but made familiar by the medium of water, in which everything seems to have water flowing around it. At the end of this pool the water is taken back underground to its fan­shaped source.

The local savings bank is an imme­diate neighbour, and has taken up the water theme separately itself. A unique line of water made up of glowing, col­oured inlaid glass and built into the floor covering links the wave pattern in the pool with a water-and-glass object in the facade extending over four storeys. As in the Nuremberg ‘Prism’ building, Herbert Dreiseitl commissio­ned the Dierig glass design workshop to melt several layers of colour into a flowing form, producing an unframed, self-supported sheet of glass. Water falls between two sheets of glass from a height of 4.5 metres into a planted pool of water in the entrance area, drawing in air from the outside through a slit as it does so, thus providing an air-conditioning effect. This gives the square its second landmark.

 

Particularly impressive at night, horizontal and vertical light structures are interpreted and reflected by moving water. It has become a popular attraction for people.

 

The main entrance to the Sparkasse bank in Linden – platz is accented by a 15 metres high light, glass and water sculpture. The horizontal, glowing lines of inlaid glass appear in vertical form here and blend into the space beyond the dimensions of the building.

 

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The new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in Gummersbac

The new town square in Gummersbac

 

The new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in Gummersbac
The new town square in GummersbacThe new town square in GummersbacA fluid ribbon full of contrasts between hard and soft, crystalline and organic, running through Gummersbach town centre.

The new town square in Gummersbac

The new town square in Gummersbac