Strasbourg - Kehl, Cour des Douanes - Zollhofareal

Strasbourg/Kehl, France/Germany


The "Cour des Douanes" in Strasbourg and the "Zollhofareal" in Kehl are former customs posts located on the historic French and German border crossing, along the Rhine River. Europe has opened up, customs post have shrunk, a once backyard territory is now open for future developments. It becomes possible to define the terms of a new relation between the two cities, to imagine a European transborder metropolis along the Rhine.


The project of LIN is at the same time a vision to reunite the two cities/countries around the river and a framework for the urbanization of the site. The project takes on the site’s existing qualities and proposes a new geographical coherence: new developments help reconnecting the dislocated urban fragments already present on the site; at the same time the project is a step towards the construction of a new fluvial landscape expanding until the industrial harbors of Strasbourg and Kehl.

Am Rhein

The urban structure unfolds out of and towards the Rhine, enhancing its physical and symbolic presence. At the same time it absorbs the infrastructural lines of the site in a new urban landscape. The Rhine that once separated the two cities becomes an integrating reality. The project is not thought of as a rigid masterplan. It is more of a matrix open to multiple functions and uses, adapting to the specificities of each found situation.

Neighborhood - ST

New developments should not be autarchic but help create lively neighborhoods. Therefore programs are mixed up: housing, offices, retail, culture, sport and leisure. In Strasbourg, the existing and the new urban fabric merge around a public spine activated with commercial and recreational programs. Between the bridges a mixed-use landscaped building articulates the different topography levels and provides an additional North South connection. Two natures of public space coexist: the strips perpendicular to the Rhine have an urban character, the treatment of the river banks and the spine echo the presence of water.

Neighborhood - K

The built and un-built strips unfolding perpendicular to the river help dissolve the perception of infrastructural borders. In Kehl, they provide the possibility for the city-center to extend in new forms and programs. North of the railway lines former military barracks’ are integrated in a new diverse neighborhood mixing up housing (collective, terrace, town houses), offices, as well as commercial and cultural programs. Along the river, a wide space for promenade incorporates new North South connections and integrates an existing marina.

Bridges & Passages

From riverbank to riverbank, neighborhood to neighborhood, new bridges and passages help to overcome the many borders on the site. Connected with new programs and uses they generate a multitude of singular micro situations.


What if it was all about topography? What if the evidence was geographical? The Rhine, from Basel to Rotterdam? Rivers as places overturning the traditional opposition between city and nature, local and global? Fluviality as a new metropolitan condition, bringing together the natural and the cultural in a non hierarchical way?

Project Data


The competition focused on the transformation of the old French and German customs in Strasbourg and Kehl, "La Cour des Douanes" and "Zollhofareal", located on both sides of the Rhine.

Client: Stadt Kehl and Communauté urbaine de Strasbourg

Status: competition 2012-2013, Competition 1st prize, Since May 2013; further studies

Location: anciennes cours des douanes de Strasbourg (FR), Ancienne Zollhofareal à Kehl (DE)

Surface: 20 hectares



Architects: LIN Architects Urbanists, Finn Geipel, Giulia Andi, David Levain, Bruno Pinto da Cruz, Thomas Untersweg, Fabienne Boudon, Andrea Alessio, Nagma Sharma, Jonas Tratz; Landscape: Bassinet Turquin

Paysage, Paris - Grégoire Bassinet, Rémy Turquin; Lighting & Sustainability: Arup, Berlin; Philosophy: Joseph Hanimann, Paris


Image 1/7 KSB-01-ESS-LIN-site_panorama
Image 2/7 KSB-02-ESS-LIN-general_plan
Am Rhein
Image 3/7 KSB-04-ESS-LIN-general_perspective
Neighborhood - ST
Image 4/7 KSB-05-ESS-LIN-plan_strasbourg
Neighborhood - K
Image 5/7 KSB-06-ESS-LIN-plan_kehl
Bridges & Passages
Image 6/7 KSB-07-ESS-LIN-view_from_kehl
Image 7/7 KSB-08-ESS-LIN-view_from_kehl
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