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Temporary solution for Max Joseph Platz: Green Center in front of the Opera – Munich

Temporary solution for Max Joseph Platz: Green Center in front of the Opera – Munich

The Max-Joseph-Platz in front of the opera will have a green circular center around the King's Monument. The rough stones currently laid there, called Isar cobbles, are supposed to give way to a short grassy circuit divided by gravel paths. These will lead away from the statue in a geometric, star-like manner.

In addition, the previously wide access to the underground parking, which will continue to operate, will in the future be made as narrow as possible from Maximilian Straße to the entrance. These plans were unanimously and explicitly approved by the City Council as a temporary solution for the coming years until the final rezoning process takes place.

“Max Josef Platz is in dire need of renovation,” building official Jeanne-Marie Ebauer (Green Party) explained after the meeting. The concept now defined takes into account its historical and urban importance and at the same time creates a new green area in the old town.

However, Mayor Dieter Reiter (SPD) sees no reason to be euphoric. “Basically, everything is nicer than the current situation with the wide entrance to the underground parking. However, this temporary solution is also far from my idea for one of the most beautiful squares in Munich,” he commented on the decision after the project was completed. interview.

This means that the debate over the future of Max Joseph Platz, which has been going on for many years, has come to an end, at least for the time being. There was a serious disagreement between the city and the Monuments Conservation Agency over the design. Bavaria's chief conservation expert, General Conservator Matthias Pfeil, said in an interview with SZ in August 2023 that “Munich's most important city square” should be treated with dignity and not turned into a “playground.” The city's original plans for shrubs, grasses and wildflowers in the center would have led to their “abuse.”

The meadow-like planting was publicly introduced for the first time by then Green Party Mayor Katrin Happen Schaden in the fall of 2022. Munich residents should get an alternative green space in the center of the Marienhof, which served as a construction site for the second main S-Bahn line. In the spring of 2023, the city council decided on a temporary solution, which is literally “a feast for bees and eyes.” Subsequently, preservationists protested massively, and the State Monuments Board rejected the project.

Perennials and wild grasses did not win approval from monument conservationists. For this reason, plans had to be redrawn again. (Image: Kubert Landscape Architecture)
And this is what it should be like now: star-shaped gravel paths stretching across the meadows toward the memorial. (Photo: Kubert Landscape Architecture/Construction Department)

In the fall, the city administration and archaeologists made a compromise, which is now being implemented. It is based on plans from around 1825 found in the main state archives. In keeping with the original concept, the large flowering shrubs will be placed in metal containers in the strict green circle based on the historical model.

The benches installed there are intended to invite you to stay in the sun or shade. The very narrow access road will be demarcated in the future by restrictions. The remaining tar area will be covered with a beige layer of plastered aggregate, matching the color of the dwelling. Recreation areas will also be created here.

However, preservationists only want to endure this design for about five years. However, it remains to be seen whether the desired final redesign of the arena can be achieved by closing the long-awaited underground car park or at least relocating the entrance.

In the coming years, transport trucks from the nearby construction site of the Second Main Road will continue to pass here. This could be over in about five years, but the bigger problem remains: The city has given the underground parking at Max Josef Platz a long-term contract through 2061. It's unclear if and how it will get out of that contract. That would be expensive anyway.

The temporary solution will cost the city €3.87 million, and work is scheduled to begin in September this year. Grandstands for the Oktoberfest parade could be built this year and next, but there will be a pause in construction for the international auto show in the fall of 2025. The “Opera for All” event will likely find an alternative location next year. The building department wants to finish the remodel in December 2025.

The three main factions on the City Council can accept a settlement for now. “The new green Max Josef Platz is a benefit for our severely closed old city,” said Mayor Dominik Kraus (Green Party). It was possible to “continue developing the city while preserving our historical heritage and responding to new challenges such as hot summers.”

The CSU now also agrees that it did not support the original plans. After the current decision, shrubs and grasses cannot be planted at half height on them, said City Councilor Alexander Rissel. Now interest in historical heritage must be taken into account.