“The new buildings of Ferropolis should have nothing to do with architecture. – There needs to be a concept that captures and twists the industrial and historical landscape into a new world of theatre.”
(Ian Ritchie, Ferropolis, September 1998)
Three new elements – a gatehouse, a rail station and toilets announce the arrival at Ferropolis, City of Steel, a new venue for music and opera in the industrial wasteland near Gräfenhainichen, a town near Dessau, Germany. The strange, almost lunar landscape and the extraordinary strip mining machines form a museum to man’s exploitation of the ‘hard black stuff’.
The minister of finance of Saxony-Anhalt formally created the project on the 14th of December 1995. In December 2005 the museum was integrated into the European Route of Industrial Heritage. Jonathan Park, formerly of Fisher Park, has reconfigured the industrial machines to create the stage set and 20,000 seat arena for the now celebrated Melt! Festival, and Büro Kiefer the new landscape.
The themes for the gatehouse and the station are the crossing of thresholds into the past and into the future – and defined by moving the geology of the site. The mineworkers will be re-employed in the building programme.
The station contrasts the gatehouse by being an empty open space rather than a solid object. The land movement evokes the diggers and defines the platforms and waiting areas, and an extensive red steel roof floats, inclined, majestically above. The whole is a composition of angular energy. The gatehouse is a raised landscape from which a grand perspective of the surreal ‘Event Horizon’ landscape can be seen on arrival on foot.
We worked with our ‘sister office’ THP Architekten in Berlin who undertook the development and implementation of the designs.