Zollverein Mining Complex
Since being shut down in 1986 the Zollverein Mining Complex has become a shrine of industrial culture. The complex was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001, partly on the basis of the OMA-Masterplan which respects the old identity. The Masterplan by OMA has been developed in close collaboration with world heritage specialists and conservationists.

In the heyday of the coal, iron and steel industry, the Zollverein Mine in Essen was the biggest and most modern plant for mining hard coal. Inspired by the Bauhaus tradition at the beginning of the 1930s, the architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer developed the pit as a functional and flexible industrial construction in the style of the New Functionalism. Form and function, buildings and machines melted together to become an inseparable entity.

The Masterplan consists of a band around the former historic site, containing the necessary new programs and functions. The prominent buildings and plants are enclosed within a single footpath which runs all the way round the complex. Here visitors can go walking, jogging or inline skating. Numerous connecting paths will be built between this 3,500 meter long ringway and the surrounding streets, connecting the site to the north of Essen.

The former rail tracks will be maintained as public space, and will connect the main buildings. The sky bridges, which transported coal from one part of the site to another, will be used for visitors who can also visit a 1,000 meter deep former mine tunnel. New roads and the extension of an existing highway through a tunnel with its entrance and exit close to the site will allow for an easier access to the site. The allocation of new programs in the periphery allows the old buildings to maintain their grandeur and strong impact on the visitor.

The Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, with its large collection of awarded products at the Red Dot design museum, is located in the old Boiler House converted by Lord Norman Foster, that opened in 1997. The old Coal Washing Plant with the new Visitors Center, converted by Rem Koolhaas OMA, houses the RuhrMuseum which opened in 2007.

10,000 square meters of the Zollverein site are to become home to companies from the fields of design, architecture, exhibition construction, advertising, marketing and communication. The “Creative Village” will have space for start-ups and young companies. Here students and graduates of the Zollverein School of Management and Design will be able to make professional contacts or found new companies themselves. With its many ambitious plans and projects, Zollverein is making its mark as a leading international location for design. The exploitation and expansion of this potential will determine further developments in the coming years.

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17 photos and 2 drawings