Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex
The Zollverein Coal Mine Complex in Essen is one of the most impressive surviving examples of industrial culture from the modern era. With their design of the central shaft facilities for Shaft XII, built between 1928 and 1932, Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer created the single most important part of the complex, both technically and architecturally. The industrial monument has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
The site of the Zollverein coal mine and coking plant stands symbolises industrial history and structural transformation in the economy. Here, Schupp and Kremmer created a high-performance industrial complex with clear aesthetics and a high degree of functionality. Symmetry, axiality and gradation of scale – the organising principles of the modernist formal idiom – came into their own here in a new context.
The curtain wall façades, designed in the style of New Objectivity and made of a steel framework inset with clinker bricks, earned the colliery the reputation of being “the most beautiful coal mine in the world”, even back in its working days. Clearly visible from afar, the 55-metre-high double winding tower rises above the other buildings as an icon of mining architecture and a symbol for the entire Ruhr region. Years later, Fritz Schupp built the Zollverein Coking Plant, which went into operation in 1961, in the same style as the coal mine complex. In its day, the mine was regarded as the largest and most efficient one in the world. An era came to an end when the coal mine ceased operations in 1986 and the coking plant in 1993. A total of 600,000 people were employed here and coal was last extracted from a depth of 1,000 metres.
In the context of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Emscher Park, the facility, which is protected as a historical monument, was promoted as a model project; the first phase of refurbishment began in 1989. Today, the Zollverein complex is the central anchor point of the Route of Industrial Heritage – a 400-kilometre-long trail along the industrial and cultural heritage of the Ruhr region. Based on a master plan by Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA in collaboration with the architectural firm of Heinrich Böll, the site was transformed with conversions and new buildings by Norman Foster and SANAA into a site for culture, business and education. Today, the Zollverein is a popular tourist destination that is home to the Ruhr Museum, the Red Dot Design Museum, the Zollverein Monument Trail, and the new Folkwang University of the Arts with its design department, plus the studios and ateliers of four dozen creative companies. [KL/DK]
- UNESCO world heritage site
Contact and opening hours
Die Baumaßnahmen werden gefördert durch den Regionalverband Ruhr, das Land NRW und den Bund.