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Wednesday 30th March
Alicia Ongay-Perez

After a very informative introduction talk on the bus from our witty and knowledgeable host Hans Jungerius, we arrived at Zeche Zollverein. The
"Zollverein Industrial Mining Complex" is a perfect example of the coal mining and coal processing industry in the 19th and 20th century. We were introduced to the current landscaping plan by landscape architects Sascha Wienecke and Harald Fritz from Planergruppe Oberhausen. Without divulging too much information, they hinted at their plans for the site and what they had already achieved. They had
been working on the site for many years, the slow process being prolonged by the number of parties involved in the project. Currently, four of the five old shaft sites have been preserved along with the underground equipment, the central coking plant, the spoil tips, the transport sites and the colliers’ housing estates. They pointed out ways in which they had worked with these original features - such as the walkways and bicycle paths that now follow the old railways tracks. They explained some of the art projects and works that had been commissioned for the area, including a project with local school children. Zollverein was not simply the largest coal mine in the area, it was generally known as the "the most beautiful colliery in the world". Its design was architecturally rooted in the style of "Neue
Sachlichkeit" (new objectivity): strong symmetrical and geometric lines, individual cubic buildings in a correspondingly strict arrangement on the site. The buildings were placed in parallel lines to make up two axes crossing each other at right angles. We learned that the site was originally planned to make the mine look like a
machine – a monument to the new industrialism of the age – the architecture reinforced the social hierarchy of the staff. Zollverein is the symbol of industrial heritage in the Ruhr Area, the region in Germany most deeply affected by the social, economic, aesthetic and industrial upheavals during the age of coal and steel. When mining and coking activities came to an end and raised the question of what would happen next. After some threat of demolition, great efforts were made to preserve the site of outstanding architecture and huge social and economic historic significance. Today the Zollverein is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and with over 50 million Euro of public money having been invested in the
mine buildings, the property has been transformed into an international location for business, design and culture. With around 1000 jobs having now been created at Zollverein, the idea of closing down has long been banished from people’s minds. Zollverein has become the creative centre of the Ruhr Area. Every year 7000 visitors pour into Zollverein to view the largest industrial monument in the region.
And the number continues to grow.

Many of us visited the Ruhr Museum which was refurbished by Rem Koolhaas. The ascent to the museum up the striking orange escalator allows visitors to view the site from various levels. The amber and neon orange - coal burning - theme is continued inside throughout the staircase that leads down to the exhibition. The lighting of the stairwell and the descent evoke the heat and working conditions at the mine. The signage in the building and lifts reminds visitors or how many meters they are from the ground, which reinforces the sheer scale of the building. The exhibition is about the local area throughout history but focuses - mainly through photography - on the present day and aftermath of industrialization. Sound installations of the mine and original architectural features help the visitor to further
imagine life and working conditions at the mine. The view of the Zollverein Park from the roof terrace is also impressive as an overview of the area.

After lunch we began a walk that began at the Zukunftpark and led us through Oberhausen. Oberhausen is a city on the river Emscher in the Ruhr Area, and is between Duisburg and Essen. Its Gasometer Oberhausen is an anchor point of the European Route of Industrial Heritage and is now a unique exhibition space. It is also well known for the Centro, which is the biggest shopping area in Germany. Walking towards and through the shopping centre, which is modeled on an American mall, we learned that this has caused the death of the city centre of
Oberhausen and drawn shops away. Hans pointed out the logo of the city on a drain grate, which displays symbols of industrial prosperity. Ironically, he said the hammer illustrated would be better replaced with something that indicated poverty,
unemployment or desertion. The Oberhausen new borough was formed in 1862 following inflow of people for the local coal mines and steel mills. The last coal mine there closed in 1992 and the large Thyssen iron and steel mill closed in 1997. The troubled aftermath of widespread unemployment during this period is still present today.

We learned that the hilly landscape of this area was created through the depositing of waste mining materials.

Our tour continued across a bridge over the Emscher River. We were told that vast amounts of excrement are deposited in the river which is evident from the stench if you stand nearby.

Interestingly, we then moved on to the Turkish allotment area, where tens of Turks have illegally claimed the land and created miniature gardens and temporary structures. They have built with what they could find and what was readily available, so structures are erected from old doors, banister rails used to support plants and fences fashioned with old mattress frames. Some of their use of found furnishing was ingenious in that the original objects seem to disappear into the new constructions. Hans explained that although this would be impossible in the Netherlands, in Germany in this area, the police tend to ignore developments, rationalizing that it would cost more to remove them and that nobody wants this land anyway.

We finished the tour in Hans Jungerius’s ‘Situation Room’ where he and his collective map and chart developments in the Ruhr area. The vast map on the wall impressed upon us the scale of this operation. The organization is based in the Turkish area where the resourceful Turkish community has developed their own independent economy. There are dozens of wedding shops along this main street which is apparently a shopping hub for young Turkish brides from all over the world.

We finished the day feasting in the Turkish restaurant next door!