Looking up at the fortifications that are the Mainz Rathaus (town hall), one could be excused for thinking that at any moment boiling oil or similar could be released from above the portcullises (portcullii?) and that phalanxes of archers are just waiting for the chance to turn intruders into a fair imitation of a porcupine.
If you DO happen to get sprayed with anything against the acoustic background of a muffled explosion, though, it’s likely to be the air-conditioning imploding and distributing its contents over the city.
The Rathaus was designed by Danish architects Arne Jacobsen and Otto Weitling, was built in 1973 and according to the Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung (local rag) leaked like a sieve from Day 1.
Unlike most sensible people, the city has invariably neglected to put money away for a rainy day, instead running up debts that cumulate to close on €1bn ($1.34bn) and resulting in not having 2 cents ($0.028) to rub together.
Unfortunate, then, that they don’t have the financial resources to at least perform normal maintenance on the place (go into the foyer and you think you’re in a building site…), let alone making the place energy efficient and reducing the annual power bill from €600,000 (2009 values) to something more manageable.
Unfortunate, too, that the cost for bringing the place up to scratch is around €60m. Or more than it cost to build.
So if I were you, I’d definitely carry an umbrella if you’re anywhere near the place.
Especially if you go inside….