Hand-over of keys: The new Zollverein School Building

I’ve returned from the handover of keys ceremony at the new Zollverein School of management and design building yesterday late afternoon after spending some more hours than originally planned ;-) Lot’s of interesting and important (!) people have attended the ceremony and I’d wish I could have recorded some interviews and post them as a podcast here on this site. Interesting idea … (?!)

After all my one line summary: The building simply is amazing and a real landmark even in the context of the equally thrilling setting of Bauhaus architecture dominated former coal mine buildings. However here’s a snippet from the recent press release which describes my impressions quite well:

“Although the Zollverein School was designed specifically to blend in with the other buildings on the former coalmine site, it has its own unique character. This light grey cube seems both powerful and lightweight at the same time. The building is 34 metres high and has a footprint measuring 35 x 35 m. The inner structure of the building is also unique. It comprises four storeys (four levels and a rooftop garden) of different ceiling heights. Most of the 5,000 square meters of useable space is open plan and can be used for myriad purposes. This makes it ideally suited to the Zollverein’s innovative tuition and research concept. The atmosphere of the space in the building is best described by the term ‘reduction’. There are few supporting structures and all of the building technology is hidden in the walls and ceilings. All of this emphasises the focus on essentials.”

Fortunately Photographer Thomas Mayer was present as well and again he took some amazing shots as well. While you can access the complete “visual story” of the construction process on his website I’ve also picked and placed my favourite shots at the end of this posting.

On my 45 minutes drive home one statement of the two (star) architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA) made me think of impact this building will have on the future development of Zollverein School:

“When asked to explain their design for the Zollverein School of Management and Design building, renowned architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa said that ‘it’s all about context and process’. Together with the general planning team (SANAA/Böll), the client (Entwicklungsgesellschaft Zollverein mbH), the user (Zollverein School), and specialist engineers, they designed an impressive building, the concept for which was based on the school’s mission. With its flexible space design, it reflects the Zollverein School’s unique theory that design and management skills should be combined and its goal of breaking new ground in the field of corporate management.”

And by the same token the story of Zollverein School reminded me on the case of the Peter B. Lewis Building for the Weatherhead School of Management. Similarly to Zollverein School and SANAA, world-renowned architect, Frank O. Gehry and his firm, Gehry Partners worked with the Weatherhead School of Management on the design and construction of the impressive building. Their experiences have been documented in highly recommend book titled “ Managing as Designing”. Some sample chapters of this book can be downloaded for free at their project site.

While Zollverein School also published some very professionally and appealing brochures about the building, process and event Prestel Publishing also published a book about Zollverein School which I have as a hardcopy on my desk. I’ll see if I can get some PDF sample chapters for you as well …


4 Responses to “Hand-over of keys: The new Zollverein School Building”


    hola soy estudiante de arquitectura, chileno, estoy trabajando en la investigacion de los arquitectos sanaa y la escuela de zollverein.
    sobre: contexto, materialidad, criterio estructural..

    hay alguna posibilidad de apoyo, se los agradeceria mucho.!

    victor muñoz fiqueroa
    Emai: cel:09/0994351

  2. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » Join! Upcoming Symposium: “Entering the Evacuated Field” Says:

    […] While the new Zollverein School building has just been opened exciting events already knock at the door! Later this month a highly inspiring symposium with international experts will be held at the Zollverein School of management and design. Make sure, you won’t miss it! […]

  3. Zollverein School Blog » Blog Archive » The only constant is change … Says:

    […] Well, one of the milestones has clearly been the grand opening of the new Zollverein School building at the end of July. At the same time the presidency of Zollverein School has been handed over from Prof. Ralph Bruder to Andrej Kupetz. From my perspective this hand over is also a synonym for the transition from setting up such a unique institution like Zollverein School to developing direction and thought leadership at the intersection of design & business in education and practice. […]

  4. Mario Pazzini Says:

    please provide some information about the building costs for the School building. Thanks!

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