For the first time, the award by the Hanseatic City of Hamburg goes to an architect
On September 24 at the Town Hall, Hamburg’s Lord Mayor, Peter Tschentscher, awarded the Bürgermeister-Stolten medal to Volkwin Marg, Founding Partner of gmp Architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners. Since 1925, the medal has been used to honor personalities who have been consistently and especially successful in their work for the Hanseatic City. Volkwin Marg is the first architect and town planner to have merited this honor.
“Volkwin Marg has contributed to Hamburg’s cityscape with outstanding buildings, including the Hanseviertel, the airport terminals, and the new Elbbrücken underground and overground stations. Together with Mayor Voscherau, he developed the idea of HafenCity and thereby laid the foundations for one of the largest inner city development projects in Europe. Volkwin Marg has designed important buildings in international metropolises and, in this way, has put “Architecture made in Hamburg” on the world map. In addition to his professional work, he is a keen advocate of the preservation of historic monuments. This commitment to his chosen home city of Hamburg is honored by the Senate with the award of the Bürgermeister-Stolten medal. I wholeheartedly congratulate Mr. Marg on this award.” Lord Mayor Dr. Peter Tschentscher
Ever In 1965, together with his student friend Meinhard von Gerkan, Volkwin Marg founded the architectural practice gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects in Hamburg, which since then, from its base in Hamburg, has completed over 500 projects worldwideâ•in Europe, South America, Russia, India, Vietnam and Chinaâ•including several stadiums, trade fairs, railway stations, and airports.
On the front, the Bürgermeister-Stolten medal shows the profile of Otto Stolten; on the back it is inscribed “The common good is the highest law”. With his critiques in newspapers, on the radio and television, as well as with expert reports, manifestos, and designs, Marg has shown special commitment to his home city in the interest of the common good. His focus is on the perception and preservation of both Hamburg’s unique architecture and specific identity in urban developments.
His expert report “Building near Water” (1973) documented the hitherto unused opportunities in Hamburg for making beneficial use of its many waterways, including the banks of the Rivers Elbe, Bille, and Alster, as well as the basins, Fleet canals, and dilapidated port facilities that separated the city from the River Elbe. In 1980, Marg joined the forum of the associations of architects, landscape designers, and engineers in Stadersand to support the “Save the Lower Elbe Region” campaign in favor of a review of the regional plan of the three authorities bordering the River Elbe, i.e. Hamburg, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein, which at that time had planned further infill projects in order to create development land for industry. This campaign was enthusiastically taken up by the press and contributed to a more ecologically based approach.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Marg produced several expert reports in order to prevent the infilling of port basins and Fleet canals in the Speicherstadt, an issue that had become a controversy between Town Planning and the Port Authority. The Chairman of the HHLA Board, Peter Dietrich, who also valued a more harmonious port and urban landscape, met with Mayor Henning Voscherau for a confidential conversation with the aim of balancing the interests of both port and city. At great personal risk, they both laid the foundations for the intended HafenCity urban development. (Henning Voscherau received the Bürgermeister-Stolten medal in 2011 and Peter Dietrich posthumously in 2017.) This required a realistic masterplan concept, which was developed at Marg’s Chair in Aachen (“Geheimprojekt HafenCity”, Dölling und Galitz, 2017). The project was publicly introduced in the Town Hall by Henning Voscherau on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Übersee Club on May 7th, 1997, in the presence of Roman Herzog, President of the Federal Republic. Since then, the construction of HafenCity has become an internationally renowned pilot project of the growing Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
As an architect Volkwin Marg has contributed to the perception of Hamburg’s identity with his designs featuring North-German brick architecture. He was particularly keen on preserving Hamburg’s monuments. Today, four of his own buildings have already been listed as historic monuments.
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