You are standing in front of the Culture and Congress Centre Graf-Zeppelin-Haus, also known colloquially as GZH. It was built in 1985 and named after the honorary citizen Count Zeppelin. Following the war and whilst the gradual rebuilding of residential areas, infrastructure and industry was progressing, a strong desire for cultural events emerged. The former Kurgarten Hotel by the promenade gardens was damaged in the war, and reconstructed to become the cultural centre.
Even today the Graf-Zeppelin-Haus remains an architectural masterpiece. Once the largest construction pit in Baden-Württemberg, a total of 24,000m3 of concrete was used. From this, eight floors were constructed, four of which are underwater. The GZH is separated from Lake Constance by a 26m long retaining wall made up of 840 columns, which each have a diameter of 80cm. Four large halls and eight conference rooms can accommodate up to 4,000 visitors at once across 700 events and 2,000 room bookings a year. It’s not just the architecture that’s excellent, but the technology too. A turntable with a maximum weight capacity of ten tonnes makes it possible for the GZH to be able to have elephants on the stage. Everything is possible in the GZH, including decorating a hall ceiling with a glider for one special event. The GZH is intended as a home for citizens, and special occasions often take place here, such as carnival. The people of Friedrichshafen have contributed their part to the 300,000 visitors a year, not only during carnival season, but for other occasions too.
Apart from renowned companies that organise meetings and conferences, other diverse cultural opportunities take place in the GZH, such as plays, concerts, ballet performances and art exhibitions. Along with the Neue Messe (trade fair) that opened in 2002, the GZH contributes significantly to the 700,000+ recorded overnight stays that Friedrichshafen receives a year. This makes Friedrichshafen an important trade fair and congress city. If you walk around the building and along the promenade, you will see an almost life-size statue of the Count with his sideburns.