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IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

Kongress am Park Augsburg

 

The Bavarian congress centre with cult status

July 4, 2022

What an anniversary for this Grade II-listed landmark, the Augsburg Conference Centre. Due to the successful renovation and revitalisation of this architectural monument in Wittelsbacher Park, it is now seen in specialist circles as an example of 'best practice' in dealing with the building culture of post-war modernism. With a focus on combatting climate change and promoting sustainability, the Augsburg Conference and Congress Centre is considered a 'monument for the future'. To mark the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Centre on June 17, 1972, an anniversary exhibition is on display in the foyer until the end of 2022. It is dedicated to the Centre's architect, Max Speidel, and the architectural style of brutalism. It recalls the spirit of optimism in the 1970s and the anticipation around the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, for which Augsburg and Kiel were also event venues.

 

 

 

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

The Congress Hall has always been more than just a venue. It was a symbol of the cosmopolitanism and open-mindedness of modern Augsburg, and it reflected the anticipation of the 1972 Summer Olympics. The whole world was a guest, and as the location of the canoe slalom event, Augsburg was an important venue and host! To accommodate Olympic guests, a 115-metre-high hotel tower was constructed. Made of exposed concrete, it is nicknamed 'corn on the cob' due to its shape, and was designed in the style of the Marina Towers in Chicago. The tower now houses the Dorint Hotel and is still the most recognisable landmark in the skyline of Augsburg, visible for miles around.

 

Long before the Congress Hall reached its 50th birthday, it was showing signs of wear and clearly needed updating. Dense ivy was covering the exposed concrete façade, and in 2008, the visitor capacity of the Hall had to be reduced.

 

In 2009, Götz Beck, who was already Director of Tourism, was appointed to take on the parallel role of Managing Director of Kongress am Park Betriebs GmbH . In the same year, the Hall was placed under a monument protection order. On May 3, 2012, the event complex was reopened under the new name 'Kongress am Park'. It was the beginning of a new success story.

 

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

General refurbishment as an investment in the future – and for the environment

 

The 21 million euros spent on the visual and 'green' refurbishment of the buildings, and for improvements to the sound and lighting technology both inside and outside the building complex, was a vital investment to ensure a promising future for the architectural monument.

 

"The complex enjoys cult status in professional circles as a best-practice example for the revival of post-war Modernism. It is a monument to Brutalism (béton brut) in Bavaria, but thanks to an energy-efficient climate concept, it is also a 'monument for the future' in the face of climate change, where built architecture is understood as a resource for cultural, economic and ecological sustainability." This is the verdict of architecture expert PD Dr. habil. Olaf Gisbertz, BDAo.a., whose study days entitled '1972/2022 MONUMENTS FOR THE FUTURE IN PRACTICE: On dealing with young monuments of Modernism' will take place in November 2022, with lectures held in the Kongress am Park or on excursions in the city.

 

 

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

'Kongress am Park' – a brand building process

 

After the extensive technical and physical renovation of the congress hall, the 'Kongress am Park' brand was introduced in 2012 and then continuously developed, starting with the adoption of the name and the visual presentation of the conference centre. But above all, according to Götz Beck, "first and foremost, it was important in the branding process to highlight the outstanding architecture from 1972."

 

This visualisation was the starting point: what followed was the further upgrading of the concrete architecture of the monument and the associated improvements to the quality of the experience it offered. Today, the Congress Centre's promotional materials carry the tagline, "concrete meets emotion." The optical effect of the 'rediscovered' clear design language of the 1970s monument is emphasised by its framing within the extensive green space of the city park: the Congress Centre is practically on a green island on the outskirts of the city.

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

Colourful art enhances the interior of the building. Temporary exhibitions by regional artists take place here in cooperation with the Society for Contemporary Art. True-to-style design classics from the 1970s, such as the orange lounger Pantonova by Verner Panton—which has become a cult object—harmonise with the exposed concrete of post-war modernism. The special, feel-good atmosphere of the space is also enhanced by carefully selected newer design objects such as the pink 'Plasma' seating furniture by Danish designers Busk and Hertzog.

 

The listed light sculpture in the foyer, which can be seen from afar through the glass front, is as striking as it is room-defining. The shape of the filigree work of light art was intended to be reminiscent of Japanese cherry blossom branches. The lighting planning and lighting design were honoured with the 'GE Edison Award of Merit 2012', a globally significant industry award for creative, innovative, energy-efficient and sustainable solutions in lighting technology.

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

Sustainability and green meetings

 

The fact that experts see Kongress Am Park as a 'Monument for the Future' as regards climate change and sustainable processes is partly due to the preservation of this relatively recent monument. Without demolition and new construction, the '"grey energy' contained in this building complex was preserved: built architecture became a resource for ecological sustainability.

 

Thanks to the energy-conscious refurbishment, the Centre's operating energy consumption has been reduced by 70 percent. As a result of this and the general renovation, the Congress Centre is now a venue with a positive ecological balance and can offer' green meetings' and CO²-neutral conferences.

 

This result has been achieved not least because of the energy management and monitoring provided by Stadtwerke Augsburg (SWA). Photovoltaics and a combined heat and power plant generate environmentally-friendly heat and electricity efficiently—and innovatively: Kongress am Park is home to Germany's first fuel cell in a Congress Centre, which supplies highly-efficient heat and electricity. State-of-the-art regulation and control technology ensure that the air quality, temperature and humidity are perfectly adjusted for the number of visitors. Energy efficiency was the leitmotif for the LED lighting concept of the congress hall. Electricity is obtained from energy suppliers who operate hydroelectric power plants in the region.

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

Kongress am Park can now be considered a model project for ecological renovation and energy efficiency within a monument. However, the sustainability considerations go beyond the general renovation. For instance, caterers at the Centre pay attention to regionality and sustainability. Drinks and seasonal products, most of them organic, are sourced from local and regional suppliers, for example local beer from the award-winning brewery Riegele.

 

For a journey that is as CO²-neutral as possible, conference and congress participants are advised to purchase their event tickets alongside discounted Deutsche Bahn tickets available for Kongress am Park delegates. Deutsche Bahn uses 100 percent green electricity to provide local and long-distance transport. On arrival in the city, buses and trams take event participants to the Kongress am Park stop directly in front of the main entrance. They can also use a bike from the site's own rental station for trips into the city.

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

Great future potential for meetings and congresses in hybrid format

 

Kongress am Park has long since responded to the demand for digital and hybrid events. During hybrid events, many participants attend in person, while provision is made for any other interested parties to participate remotely.

 

Virtual rooms and technical services enable event formats from small online conferences to live streaming or large hybrid events. The combination of on-site presence and online participation in such events not only expands the circle of potential participants worldwide, but also enables presentations by top-class keynote speakers. This also helps to reduce the carbon footprint of events with participants from all over the world.

 

"Virtual rooms have given us the ability to host events that previously could not come to Augsburg because of the large number of participants," says Götz Beck. He knows that conferences make a big impact, now more than ever before, and sees great future potential in hybrid events as a conference and congress format."Experts even predict a golden age for the conference and congress industry," he says.

 

 

 

Plan your next congress to the highest sustainability standards by visiting:

 

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

UNESCO World Heritage and ENVIRONMENTAL COMPETENCE

 

The historical 'Augsburg Water Management System' has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2019, with 22 monuments and museums that focus on hydraulic engineering and drinking water supply, hydropower use and fountain art. Guests of the city can experience the history of the drinking water supply from the decentralised water collection to modern technology and the drinking water protection measures of the Stadtwerke Augsburg.

 

Since 2020, Kongress am Park has been a member of the environmental network KUMAS e.V., which promotes and intensifies the exchange of knowledge between stakeholders from business, science, administration, and politics on environmental and energy issues.

 

As an environmental city 2013 and official Bavarian environmental competence centre, Augsburg is one of the leading locations for the development of environmental technologies in Europe (headquarters of the Bavarian State Office for the Environment, Environmental Park Augsburg, KUMAS - Bavarian Competence Centre for the Environment e.V., Bavarian Environmental Cluster, Environmental-Technological Start-up Centre, bifa Environmental Institute GmbH).

 

 

IMAGE: Kongress am Park Augsburg

Why 'Kongress am Park Augsburg' is particularly attractive for some sectors

 

In the tough Germany-wide competition for conference and congress locations, Augsburg is per se more attractive for a number of economic sectors and interests than other cities.

 

Since 2019, the UNESCO World Heritage City of Augsburg has been practically 'obligatory' as an event location for companies, research institutes and associations for water management..

 

The strengths of the location are in economic clusters such as mechatronics and IT, fibre composites and the health sector, not least in connection with the University Hospital Augsburg.

 

In general, Augsburg's history, which stretches back more than 2,000 years, offers an attractive framework for supporting programs and many occasions, whether as a Roman city, Renaissance city, Fugger city or a city of peace. The first diesel engines, the gasworks ensemble in Augsburg-Oberhausen, the State Textile and Industrial Museum (TIM) and other highlights of industrial culture form an exciting background, especially for representatives of the economy and for the branches  of the manufacturing industry.

 

 

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