Haus der Essener Geschichte
Conversion and rebuilding
The city of Essen invited to an Europe-wide competition in 2005 with the goal to accomodate the insufficient and at different places stored archival documents of the city, the administration of the city archive, its public library, an auditorium and a museum for the recent history of the city.
An important point was to keep the architectural monument Luisenschool from 1906, which was only partially used as school, as a cultural heritage of the city and to employ it still useful. The requested utilisations could be well integrated into the historic building structure. The new extension of the needed archive is built as a massive four-storeyed building. The new building closes an urban cut of the former block structure, which was a result of the war. It accomodates the necessary 17 rack kilometers via movable rack systems.
The listed existing building is refurbished according to the regulations for historical monuments. The groined vaulted hall form the common foyer for students, guests and employees of the „Haus der Essener Geschichte“ and is the prelude of the exhibition, which is situated in the former class rooms. According to the demands of the city archive, the offices are also placed in the former class rooms. The auditorium is located close to the foyer facing the Bismarkstraße. The reading room and the administration are situated in the calmer extension from the 1950s.
In connection to the archiv the basement floor houses the take-over of the archival documents with their workshops. The air raid shelter, left nearly original since 1945, is integrated with its authentic condition as extension of the exhibition “Resistance and persecution during the Third Reich“.
The four-storeyed depot building is connected with the extension of the 1950s by a glazed gap. A new disabled friendly lift balances the differences of elevation. The facades of the new archive building are covered with Corteen-steel. This material, that constantly alters, communicates the change of time and appears safe-like conserving.
Furthermore it is a reference to the history of the former steel city Essen. The structure of the openings in the facade playfully reflects the flexible used movable rack systems inside. Room-high aslant embedded ventilation openings in the facade penetrate the facade, decrease direct insolation and support the air circulation because of their different positions.
The building has an outdoor temperature sensor and meters, installed on every floor. Every floor is supplied with cross ventilation and heating with conventional radiators by an intelligent regulation. A natural, regulated ventilation was planned for the depot. A ventilation and air conditioning is not necessary.