UNStudio, an architectural design office based in Amsterdam, won an urban revitalization project in Frankfurt's very city center, which will open up new streets to create a multi-use, vibrant inner-city quarter, bringing together a healthy mix of work, living, relaxation and recreation, thus redefining the skyline of the city.

It was a pleasant experience to be part of the team as an architecture intern during the beginning of the design development phase. I was asked to implement a design of tile arrangement for the project's central plaza based on the the general design concepts. The grasshopper script was an interesting try of making a tool to quickly generate tile patterns with gradient control of certain typologies and the proportion of the typologies can also be tuned. 

The Central Plaza

On the site itself, new public space will be created which has been inaccessible for nearly half a century. The four towers are grouped in such a way that the central square is completely framed. The differentiation of the orientation and heights of the four high-rise buildings articulates variations within the skyline and optimises daylight penetration.

From the outside, the site opens up towards the city centre, creating a new urban quarter. New connecting routes, passages and squares will enliven the area and connect it to the pedestrian zones in the city centre. Publicly accessible spaces, such as a planned roof garden, a city square, multiple restaurants and retail outlets aim to improve the quality of time spent in the financial district. The consistent opening-up of the city quarter ensures a new network of the inner city routes between the banking district, the Rossmarkt, the Kaiserplatz and the shopping areas of the Goethestraße as far as the Old Opera House.

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Photo Credit: @UNStudio

Tile Design

Based on the geometry of the building and major pedestrian directions, the tile division needs to follow three main directions. Four basic typologies were decided for gradient purposes and fabrication feasibility as well. The entire plaza area was divided into three sub regions, A,B and C: the decking area along the perimeter of the buildings and confined by drainage guts. E: the central triangular area at the very center of the plaza. D: All rest of the area in between. 


To emphasize the centrality of the plaza, a gradient was created from the edge of the buildings to the plaza center, the more to the center, the smaller the subdivision would be. In addition to that, a layer of color coding was adopted to enhance the gradient. The change in color and density also define zones for different activities. The result of the combination of geometry and color is shown below.

181127_FOUR_Quartiersplatz - Pavement Sy

The last step was to add embedded ground lighting and brass inlays to the tiles, the inlays also follow the three main directions, and the whole plaza was divided into three zones for each direction of inlays, there are intersecting areas between each two zones where two types of inlays merge, the center of the plaza have all three types mingled with each other.


Grasshopper Implementation


Inlays & Lights

Setup Range and Basic Grids

Parameters to Tune

Plaza Zoning

Tile Geometry&Color in Each Zone