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“Guest worker” monument:

Impulses for a common history


Client:  Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Content concept, spatial design: Atelier Markgraph, Frankfurt am Main

An urban installation makes the lasting contribution of the “guest workers” to our society visible to the public.

The challenge

Breaking down persistent thought patterns of a homogeneous majority culture that separates itself from the foreigner.  


Our approach

Comprehensively redesigning and upgrading the subway station into a dynamic experiential and cultural space as a symbol of recognition of the immigrants’ social transformation efforts.



Content conception, spatial design

What would Frankfurt be and what would Frankfurt look like without the boost of modernisation through migration?

For twenty years now, there has been a debate in Frankfurt about the realisation of a monument in honour of the first generation of so-called “guest workers”. On behalf of the City of Frankfurt, we have developed a concept for an urban intervention at the Frankfurt Central Station that celebrates Germany as a pluralistic immigration society. The aim is, on the one hand, to pay tribute to the 14 million people who came to Germany from other countries to work between 1955 and 1973, 3 million of whom have stayed here. On the other hand, we want to make people aware of how we also benefit from migration today and in the future.

From social hotspot to social space.

It may seem strange that such an important memorial should be created in this uninviting place. We use the authenticity, but also the famous, historical and current models of underground design to transform the entire platform hall into an atmospheric, multi-perspective experiential space. Inspired by modern street art, we reinterpret a pragmatic everyday situation into a lively cultural scene: a revaluation dedicated to the “guest workers”.


The railway station is a place of both transit

and movement.

Urban society and international visitors, transients and commuters meet here. We take the omnipresent motif of movement, which also underlies migration, and create dynamic typeface-installations with verbs of movement, which in their figurative meaning refer to the importance of our mobility, to individual lives and goals as well as social contexts. The word games react to the passers-by, change the language and invite to interaction. With the integration into the everyday context, the memory of the “guest workers” comes alive. We ourselves become part of the common history.

Interested people have online access to a story and narrative space on the topic of “guest workers” and migration.

They can also give feedback and impulses regarding the installation.

We create a contemporary translation of a memorial: a dynamic place of remembrance and outlook.
And the subway station becomes colourful. Frankfurt shows itself diverse.


“It is about time that the lifetime achievements of the ‘guest workers’ were acknowledged in a differentiated manner, which should not be limited to a simple gesture of gratitude, but should formulate a claim. In the old Federal Republic, they provided an enormous impetus for social and cultural modernisation, which created the prerequisite for culturally diverse cities like Frankfurt am Main.”

Dr. Ina Hartwig, Head of the Department of Culture of the City of Frankfurt am Main


Client:  Stadt Frankfurt am Main

Content concept, spatial design: Atelier Markgraph, Frankfurt am Main

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