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The delights of Dusseldorf, Medienhafen and it’s ‘starchitecture’

 

For those of you who like city breaks, along with architecture and great beer, I’d like to recommend a perfect spot in Germany. Dusseldorf might not be as well-known as German cities like Berlin and Munich, however being located in the west of Germany, closer to England, it’s a lot quicker to get to for a weekend break.

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The best place to stay, to be right in the middle of the action, is Altstadt (old town), which is known fondly by Germans as ‘the longest bar in the world’. This small area has more than 300 bars, beer halls and nightclubs, supposedly with each bar counter connected to the one next door. The local brew is simply named ‘Altbier’ (old beer) made from an old traditional recipe that is meant to taste of bacon. We sampled this local tipple and certainly didn’t notice the bacon, but I would recommend it to all English bitter drinkers, as it’s just as smooth without the fizz of lager.

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Even though we were tempted by many a beer hall we did escape the Hedonism of Altstadt to enjoy a boat trip up the Rhine to Medienhafen (media harbour). A recently developed docklands area of the city where media companies, fashion and design offices have been attracted by new high rise examples of modern architecture. The most famous building being Frank Gehry’s three offices individually finished in white render, polished stainless steel panels and red brick. The concept of these three sculptural buildings is that the middle one reflects the buildings to the left and right, thus creating a visual link between the three. Like a shimmering curtain this central building is a great haunt for amateur photographers, like myself.

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Love him or hate him, Frank Gehry is definitely an architect who has tried to push the boundaries of construction to create sculptural and imaginative architecture. Following the success of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, where a single building helped to transform a city’s tourist industry, he created a new brand of building that goes by the name of “starchitecture”.

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