Frankfurt am Main, 21.09.2023 – With its NEW LIFE initiative, ATP architects engineers, Europe’s leading integrated design office, is bringing the real estate industry together to address the revitalization of empty department stores. The initiator Albert Achammer, architect and Managing Director of ATP Hamburg, invited another group of leading representatives of the sector to the Department Store Symposium, this time in Frankfurt.
The way in which the ongoing “NEW LIFE” initiative and its aim of reusing these “old blocks” has hit a nerve in the sector is demonstrated by the many prominent participants. “We’re delighted that big players in the real estate sector such as bulwiengesa, Tishman Speyer, and ECE are attending today’s symposium. Because only by working together in an interdisciplinary fashion to develop well-thought-out repurposing concepts will we be able to counter the dying out of these department stores and ensure that people once again enjoy visiting our city centers,” says the convinced host, Albert Achammer.
Buildings with potential
The series of keynote lectures, workshops, and discussions soon made it clear that there is no shortage of use concepts for old department stores. This was also clearly expressed by the moderator Christoph von Schwanenflug from the Immobilien Zeitung: “There are certainly tougher tasks than helping to breathe new life into such a building in a top urban location!” ATP is also convinced by the enormous potential of these structures. This is precisely why we launched NEW LIFE, says Albert Achammer: “Because the best solutions require every participant and every perspective. After 45 years of successful integrated design, we believe in interdisciplinary cooperation and are sure that ATP is ideally positioned to reinvigorate these old blocks.”
So what should fill these vacant buildings with new life – shops, restaurants, libraries, or civic offices? The creative director Marc Blum from ECE recommends inventive and courageous mixed-use solutions, which create places with added value for people through “placemaking” exercises that shape the city. Retail expert Roland Schwerdtfeger hopes to see buildings with charisma that act as public magnets for entire cities. But Julian Zehner of Tishman Speyer believes that it isn’t enough to have just one conceptual approach to a department store: “One always needs a broader district development and, if necessary, the beautification of an entire quarter.” This holistic view is also encouraged by New Life co-initiator and project developer Thomas Stini of Redserve: “According to ESG criteria, not only the environmental impact but also the social return on investment (SROI) are decisive for the success and profitability of these huge city center buildings. That’s why we should seize the opportunity and invest in social measures that have a quantifiable impact and reinforce the specific ESG strategy.”
“And now shift from talking to doing,” were the final words of Schwanenflug’s appeal, “perhaps in precisely the configuration in which you’re sitting here today!.” Achammer also wants his words to be followed by action: “The symposium has showed that the situation is far from hopeless. All the actors, consultants, designers, and developers, are keen to actively address the revitalization of these department stores. And we at ATP will continue to expand our integrated network and fan the flames of multi-company collaboration. And, together with the best sustainable solutions, breathe new life into our inner cities.”
About the initiative
The leading European integrated design office ATP architects engineersand its NEW LIFE initiative are intensively addressing the future of cities and the revitalization of former department store buildings. The objective is to convince municipalities and investors of the advantages of reuse rather than demolition. The cooperation and networking between experts from a range of sectors in the construction industry should drive the development of innovative solutions that encourage both economic and ecological sustainability.
In a white paper, ATP analyses the huge potential of these “old blocks” from the perspectives of economics, branding, architecture, and sustainability. The document, which addresses the subject of revitalizing department store buildings, is constantly being expanded and developed further.