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“Arrival City” Offenbach

Offenbach is presented as an arrival city at the Venice Biennale of Architecture.

© Kirsten Bucher - Biennale

People from over 150 nations live in Offenbach. They include many guestworkers from southern Europe and their children, who have recently been joined by increasing numbers of immigrants from Africa and the Arab world. Many of them are attracted to Offenbach because they have points of contact there: relatives, friends or a larger community of people from their country of origin. This makes Offenbach precisely what Canadian journalist Doug Saunders describes as an “arrival city”: a quarter on the edge of a metropolis – in this case, Frankfurt am Main – that enables immigrants to make a good start because they can live there cheaply and perhaps find work through contacts. The arrival city, writes Saunders in his widely acclaimed book of the same name, therefore often serves as a social springboard. “In Offenbach, for example, there are migrant districts around the market square that I would describe as successful,” says the author, who has visited Offenbach several times. “Immigrants can make a start there, establish themselves and open a small shop.” Offenbach is also playing a major role in the German pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture as an example of an arrival city. “Making Heimat” is the name of the concept of the German Architecture Museum (DAM) in Frankfurt am Main, which is responsible for the German presentation. The exhibition is still on show until 27 November 2016.

“Offenbach loves you”

Offenbach’s creative potential also makes the city an exciting place. The students at the renowned Offenbach University of Art and Design play no small part in that – the young artists and designers make it a lively location. Take Loimi Brautmann, for example. Born in Frankfurt, he grew up in Israel and now studies in Offenbach. It is not very difficult to love the city, finds Brautmann. Especially its internationality makes Offenbach attractive and unique. “There is this special Offenbach flair. It’s a feeling that you can’t really describe.” In order to sense it, says Brautmann, you only need to be open and willing to accept new things. He is now sharing his discoveries with visitors – during unusual city tours that take people to Polish discos and a mosque, among other things. The title of the project: “Offenbach loves you”.