palimpsest

Academic - Carnegie Mellon University - Thesis - September 2016 through May 2017

 
 
 

History and Context at Marienhof

 
 

Marienplatz Station

Munich is colored by a multi-century architectural legacy that reached distinct ideological heights in the postwar era. The area surrounding the site itself is a mélange of different eras and controversies—from the painstakingly reconstructed Neues Rathaus and Frauenkirche, to the aggressively modernist Marienplatz station.

Marienplatz station, constructed beneath the city hall and the Marienplatz itself, is a modernist juxtaposition to the meticulously historic Altstadt above. Completed in 1972, this aggressively orange piece of architecture was part of a citywide push to represent Munich and Germany on a global scale in the context of the Olympic games. Otl Aicher, lead designer of the identity for the olympic games, also involved himself heavily with matters of urban development. Quite aware of the legacy Germany had created for itself, he thus insisted upon a new identity for the city based in progressivism. Architecturally, this citywide branding exercise manifested itself in transparancy and vibrant colors—perhaps most famously realized in Frei Otto's striking tensile roof structure for the Olympiastadion. Nevertheless, Freiherr Alexander von Branca's Marienplatz station serves as an equally striking example of an attempt to directly represent progressive politics through architecture—indeed, such blatant ideology israre within civic space.

 
 
 

Marienhof

 
 

Marienhof is a unique site that lies at the intersection of multiple, dramatically different urban conditions, and as such it has played host to a variety different urban and architectural conditions—both real and imagined. 

 
 

Its history is as rich as it is anomalous—the site went from being a graveyard just within the walls of the medival city, to a well-to-do set of city blocks that hosted dozens of cultural institutions across the centuries, to being utterly devastated by air raids in the Second World War. Unlike the rest of Munich, which was attentively rebuilt along the existing street network, the Marienhof was simply never redeveloped. As the only large site availible in the dense, historically protected Altstadt—and already adjacent to the existing Marienplatz station—it was the inevitable locationof a stop on the 2. Stammstrecke.

 
 

The hertofore undeveloped state of the site is not for lack of trying. Dozens of architects and architects have come up with schemes to transform the Marienhof from a grassy patch into something. Can an alternative plan to the existing station capture the civic potentiality of the place?

 
 
 

2. Stamm

The construction of a station below the Marienhof lies within the context of a larger infrastructural endeavor. The 2. Stammstrecke project is a massive infrastructural project that will completely rework and dramatically expand the capacity of Munich's S-Bahn network. 

Munich, like most large German cities, features a dual transit network, with a dense U-Bahn rail network serving the central city, and an S-Bahn network that extends into the suburbs and adjoining towns. Unique to Munich is the layout of the S-Bahn network itself: all S-Bahn trains are funnelled through a central set of tracks known as the Stammstrecke—the Trunk Line that stretches from the Laim station to the Ostbahnhof. 

Today, the Stammstrecke is at capacity, and it is infringing on Munich's ability to expand their transit system effectively. Even the smallest problems ripple through the system, causing cascading delays and service interruptions.  More than 800.000 people use Munich's S-Bahn daily, for a transit system originally designed to handle 250.000. The 2. Stamm will allow for a dramatic upgrade in capacity. A new route with fewer stations allows for faster transit times and and a 200% increase in the number slots for trains to serve the S-Bahn network.

 
 

Munich S-Bahn and U-Bahn Network Development

Proposed in 1928, Munich's S-Bahn network began service in 1932 as a commuter rail network grafted onto preexisting urban rail lines. With the International Olympic Committee's 1966 decision to award Munich the 1972 games, the city scrambled to formalize an ad-hoc series of train lines into something more cohesive.

The mere eight years to construct a fully-fledged transit network resulted in the cost-effective decision to funnel all S-Bahn traffic though a single tunnel below the city center. February 1971 marked the completion of the original Stammstrecke tunnel, and the U-Bahn network entered service just in time for the games in May 1972.

Since then, the S-Bahn and U-Bahn networks expanded to encompass the city and its hinterland, and the astute cost-saving measure gradually transformed into an idiosyncratic hindrance.Future projections for network expansion demonstrate how the Stammstrecke limits expansion of the S-Bahn system. Note that the 2. Stamm allows for significant service expansion without a fundamental network overhaul, including the creation of a dedicated airport line and the doubling of service along constrained lines.