Concrete ideas for the future
of the Multihalle

Three prize winners and two honoraria for the international Ideas Competition

What ideas and visions do international architects have for using the Multihalle as an open space for an open society, in the spirit of Frei Otto’s thinking?

This was the question at the core of the international Ideas Competition MULTIHALLE – DEMOCRATIC UMBRELLA, jointly hosted in 2018 by the Multihalle Mannheim e.V. Association, the Association of German Architects (BDA) in Baden-Württemberg, and IBA Heidelberg.

Chaired by Peter Schmal, Director of the Architecture Museum Frankfurt, and Prof. Georg Vrachliotis, architecture theorist at the saai (southern German archive for architecture and civil engineering) in Karlsruhe, the jury agreed on guidelines for redeveloping the Multihalle and, after a two-day conference, awarded three first prizes.

“These past three years, the Multihalle has become a symbol for an urban transformation process,” said Mannheim’s Mayor for Planning, Lothar Quast. “The huge level of commitment it generates makes it possible to develop the Multihalle into a place of social interaction, cultural engagement and participation on a local and international scale.”

The architecture of the Multihalle has been a source of inspiration since it was built in 1975. Recently, more and more architects and urban planners from all over the world have become aware of Mannheim’s most important modern architectural monument. The response to the Democratic Umbrella Ideas Competition was much higher than expected, with 53 entries from all over the world submitted by the deadline of 15 February 2019. The participants – established architects, young architect firms, graduates and students of architecture – came from Germany and across Europe and many other countries such as the USA, Russia, Malaysia, Egypt, and Uganda.

The submitted works covered a wide range – from minimal changes, such as an extension of the building shell (grandstand, walkway, restaurant), to interior furnishings (small-structured modules) and house-in-house concepts. During the course of the intensive jury discussion, it was unanimously agreed that the “umbrella” role – which Lothar Quast described as a “continuation of the park landscape by other means” – should continue to shape the Multihalle in the future.

Representatives from the preservation of historical monuments advocated keeping any modifications to a minimum and additional installations as small as possible. Nevertheless, as jury member Jan Knippers emphasized, the objective is to create a “vibrant space”, not a monument.

The jury’s chairman, Peter Schmal, stated that the aim was to highlight the “umbrella-like nature of the hall”. “In the course of examining the 50+ submitted works, it became clear that its modern cathedral character – the spectacular interior – should remain the heart of the hall in future,” said jury member Fritz Auer, a contemporary of Frei Otto and co-founder of architect firm Auer & Weber.

Three winners and two honoraria


The jury shortlisted ten of the 53 submitted entries during its two-day session. After comprehensive discussions about the merits of these works, the panel selected three equal prize winners, who can now look forward to €7,000 prize money each.

In Prof. Vrachliotis’ words, the entry Hallen Allee, a collaboration between architects Guillem C. Colomer (COFO Architects) and Gabriel R. Pena (PENA architecture) from Rotterdam, transports “the optimism of BUGA 1975 into the 21st century”. With its comprehensive approach to both the interior and the peripheral area surrounding the Multihalle, it reflects BUGA 75 programmatically and formally into the future.

>  Kulti Multi, by architects Christopher Rotman and Daniel Wilken from Aachen, contains a broad spectrum of innovative interior design possibilities.

>  Multimobilhalle Mannheim, by an interdisciplinary team comprising Till Schweizer, Daniel Gornik, Marcel Heller, Konrad Otto Zimmermann, Dr. Christina West and Malte Schweizerhof, convinced the jury with its impressive landscape planning ideas.

Two honoraria, to the value of €1,500 each, were awarded in addition to the winning designs:

>  Plug & Play by Otto Closs, Lukas Bernhardt and Peter Wichmann.

Zurück in die Zukunft Multihalle (Back to the future Multihalle) by Nikolas von Schwabe.

“The winning entries featured different merits, that each represent assets for the Multihalle which should be developed cooperatively and in process stages,” said Lothar Quast. “As such, there is no single winner or winning concept – we decided instead to commend individual aspects that can be combined,” Quast went on to explain. The next step is to develop, with the winners, a process-oriented utilisation concept and to successively initiate any necessary construction work in time for BUGA 2023.

The entries to the Ideas Competition can be viewed at MARCHIVUM (1st floor) from 10.00 – 18:00 hrs on 30 and 31 March 2019.

On Wednesday, 27 March, the exhibition will be open from 10:00 – 20:00 hrs, with a guided tour at 16:30 hrs by Wulf Kramer, the competition supervisor, from Yalla Yalla!