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Find a partner and cupola up! An idea for more community in Mannheim


Andrea Dieck

Mannheim is colorful, diverse, and accessible by river – framed by the Rhein and the Neckar rivers on both sides of the city. There’s no shortage of water, but there could certainly be more places where you can meet other people and discuss with them. At least that was the opinion of a few Mannheimers. They came up with idea of how to change that: a small cupola that can have a big impact. 


This cupola, this dome, should stand in the middle of the old measuring site. You have to imagine it as an inflatable, transparent balloon that can be enlarged or shrunk at will. Just in the form of a cupola. We definitely want it to be oval and without corners, so that it stands out from the often angular architectural landscape.


It should create space for encounters and exchanges between people from different background and of all ages. The cupola is basically there for coupling up. It should be a meeting place to pass to the time, without distractions from outside or the pressure to consume anything. So that all Mannheimers can enjoy themselves, we’d like to send them on a journey. They should wander – from district to district and perhaps at some point from city to city. Our vision is that there will eventually be so many of these cupolas that the squares and roofs will be dotted with small hills. The Mannheimers should decide for themselves what they discuss in the cupolas. Through an app, they can vote on discussion topics as well as how exactly the cupolas should be used. Anything is possible, from educational spaces to citizens’ forums.


So that people can see what is going on in the cupola from the outside, it should be made out of a semi-transparent material. For the interior we’d like a soft, fluffy floor. It should resemble a mossy surface and invite you to lie or sit down. We don’t want any stuffy, seated events here. And it should smell like nature and the forest – simply natural. That helps people relax. 


The cupola will also have its own sound for calling meetings, like the church bells for Christians or the Muezzin for Muslims. We envision a sound from nature, maybe a rain drop. Whatever it is, it should appeal to people regardless of their religion or origin.