A window into the future at Cologne cathedral – bringing light to the past

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(From left.): Dipl.-Ing. Christian Könings, Member of Management, Drees & Sommer Cologne and Peter Niermann, Managing Director Garbe Wohnbau GmbH & Co. KG, Hamburg.

Christian Könings presents the remodeling of the cathedral precinct to the participants in the guided tour using an artist’s impression.

Participants at the 16th DEAL TALK® on January 23, 2013 had the unique opportunity of seeing for themselves the construction project in the section of the cathedral platform between the cathedral choir, the museums and the Philharmonic. Following years of preparation, work has started there in the area of the Dionysoshof / Baptistry. Drees & Sommer has been commissioned to undertake project control.

The 16th DEAL TALK®, which brought together experts and interested parties from business and the general public in the Roman-Germanic Museum, focused on all aspects of the current status and future positioning of the City of Cologne in the context of national and international competition.

The subsequent site tour with Dipl.-Ing. Christian Könings, Member of Management, Drees & Sommer Cologne led deep into the past of the city at the Dionysoshof east of the cathedral. This area will undergo substantial change over the next two years. Those present were unanimous that this was a positive development as a new window into the city. Following ten years of discussions, concepts and preliminary planning, one thing is clear: The cathedral platform in its current form is a thing of the past. Once seen as the optimal solution to the considerable difference in height between the station forecourt at road level and the cathedral itself, it banished road traffic under the cathedral platform allowing the creation of pedestrian access between the cathedral and the pedestrian precinct – a great benefit.

Less successful was the access to the historic city – the so-called Dionysoshof and the Baptistry – at the foot of the east choir of the cathedral. Located in a difficult-to-access dark corner, both were overshadowed by the massive concrete structure. Demolition of the platform above them with narrowing of the road and provision of pedestrian access to the Philharmonic, the Museum Ludwig and the parklands on the banks of the Rhine will bring light back to this space – a place where the early history of Christianity in Cologne takes on the tangible form of a baptismal font from the 6th century. A special feature is that the tunnel “Am Domhof” (cathedral court) not only provides bright pedestrian access with convenient stairways up to the cathedral and the museums, but also display windows and multimedia walls that can be used by cultural institutions. “The fountain and the Baptistry will see daylight again, which is appropriate given their great significance for Cologne,” emphasizes Christian Könings.

The Dionysoshof / Baptistry project is a key element of an overall concept for the remodeling of the cathedral precinct to plans drawn up by architects Allmann Sattler Wappner. The engineering firm Pirlet + Partner is responsible for structural and civil engineering. Drees & Sommer, market leader in this field, was commissioned to undertake project management of the subproject, which is scheduled for completion in mid 2015. Drees & Sommer’s proven competence in the management of highly complex construction projects is essential to ensure that the planning and construction phases dovetail smoothly and to provide full monitoring with cost control. The coordination processes with city authorities and various property owners will continue in the form of monthly meetings. The total cost of the project is EUR 19.5 million. A subsidy of EUR 5 million has been pledged as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site investment program. Construction work can start as soon as the current Cologne Transit Authority (KVB) civil engineering works have been completed, which is expected to be mid 2013.