Ian Ritchie Architects

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Oberhausen Gasometer

Oberhausen Gasometer - etchingWATER, BLUE GOLD OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Our exhibition proposal for Gasometer GmbH was selected for installation inside their 110m high gasometer – Europe’s tallest.

The design concept was based upon water. Water is a condition for all life. We, food and the earth are all mostly water. Of all the water in the earth’s biosphere only 3% is fresh water, the rest is salt water. And, 87% of the fresh water is locked up in the polar ice caps, leaving only 0.4% of the earth’s water accessible for humans, crops and animals.

Providing healthy drinkable water to everyone, both in industrialised and developing countries is a phenomenal challenge for mankind in the 21st century.

In most places throughout the world, water is carried in plastic bottles or jars. It does not come out of a tap. Safe, potable water is the gold of the 21st century.

We sought to communicate the purity of water, expressed through the phase states of water – ice, water and steam – to convey its beauty, preciousness and sounds.

The visitor enters the first of many corridors within an illuminated carved cylindrical block of ice symbolising the polar ice caps. This is the ice labyrinth. On the intermediate floor above is the main didactic part of the water exhibition. In the main gasometer space itself, an enormous ice cone was installed – measuring 50m in height. An ice skin forms on an internally illuminated taut and translucent skin.

The exhibition ran for nearly six months from autumn 2001 until spring 2002, and welcomed more than 300,000 visitors.  It was considered a major success. We were assisted by THP Architektur and Schmidt Reuter.

“What in water did Bloom, water lover, drawer of water, water carrier returning to the range, admire? Its universality: its democratic quality.” (James Joyce, Ulysses)

Journal Articles
10/2001 WELTBILD
10/2001 DIE ZEIT

Oberhausen Gasometer

Oberhausen, Germany

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