Creating new standards for a more connected and livable city, Henning Larsen has designed a New Masterplan for Wolfsburg, Germany. The new prototype for urbanism across the European continent diffuses new energy in the city center. Selected to design the project in a competition in 2019 that included competitors UNStudio and Bjarke Ingels Group, Henning Larsen’s proposal for phase 1 is expected to reach completion by 2023.
Designed in collaboration with client partners SIGNA, Stadt Wolfsburg, Volkswagen AG, and Wolfsburg AG and with creative consultants Gehl, Arup and Wordsearch, Wolfsburg Connect is the latest addition to novel urban and architectural interventions in the city, including the Phaeno Science Center by Zaha Hadid, and the Heilig Geist Kirche and Kulturhaus by Alvar Aalto. Proposing to tie the city together with active and livable urban infrastructure, Henning Larsen’s design for the 13.6-hectare masterplan, in the Nordkopf district, puts in place a prototype for small-scale urbanism.
We are designing an inclusive city on human terms – an approach that means putting emphasis on social life and accessibility. Together with Volkswagen, there is the opportunity to create a city that is the testing ground for the most cutting-edge mobility technology in the world – but what underpins the design is the goal to create a place that people want to be in and stay in. -- Louis Becker, Henning Larsen Design Principal.
Located between Hannover, Hamburg, and Berlin, Wolfsburg needs to create a new framework to attract top talents and to offer the best workplace. In fact, Volkswagen Human Resources Director and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Wolfsburg AG, Gunnar Kilian states that "more than ever before, skilled workers pay attention to an attractive living environment […] Wolfsburg already has a lot to offer, but in competing for the best minds with other major cities, it’s important we stand out.” Prioritizing connection, mobility, diversity, and choice, the new masterplan for the center of the city, is situated on an area site bordered by rail lines and a major boulevard. Both Wolfsburg Hauptbanhof and an existing bus station will be expanded in the new plan, generating a mobility hub that can link people within the city and across the region.
Offering many mobility options “results in a layered city fabric, tied more to the scale of the person than the scale of the car”. Ground-level retail, tech, and creative workshops are woven together with greenery and outdoor amenities create an active public realm throughout the day. Moreover, “the design clusters activity around major public spaces, creating ripples of activity that cross and overlap each other”. In fact, layered livability is a key concept to Wolfsburg Connect. The diverse mix of the program creates a city that is alive throughout the day, even after commuters have left the cafes and innovation hubs, locals will fill the district’s public plazas and restaurants.