From coal to culture; redevelopment of a former mine complex
In the former Heinrich Robert mine complex, one of the last producing coal mines in Hamm (Ruhrgebiet, Germany), Mei is working on the transformation of a number of national monumental buildings. The mining complex, which has hitherto been closed off to the outside world, will be transformed into an accessible and attractive new district under the name CreativRevier, where people will soon be able to live, work and recreate. For this transformation, which will include space for a hotel, workspaces, gastronomy and a health center, the aim is to preserve the character of the existing buildings as much as possible, while respecting the industrial past.
Entwicklungsagentur CreativRevier Heinrich Robert GmbH
approx. 24.000 m2 mixed-use
The part of the complex that Mei is working on consists of five buildings that were built between 1900 and 1980. These buildings served, among other things, as a management building, pay hall, changing rooms, lamp rooms and warehouses. The complex has various special qualities, ranging from detailed brick facades to beautiful tiling and typical industrial elements. The three largest building parts have a monumental status and are impressive because of their large central areas and authentic details. The area is currently abandoned, but the mine was still in use until ten years ago. Bergwerk Ost was one of the largest employers in the region and as such played an important role in the city. As a result, the complex has acquired a special place in Hamm’s collective memory.
It is clearly visible that the ensemble’s spaces are a succession of how the mine functioned above ground and how the miners moved through the complex. The whole contains a wide variety of types of spaces, such as the monumental “Lohnhal” and so-called “Kaues” where the miners could change, after which the clothes were efficiently and safely hoisted to the ceiling. This telling history will be included in the new plan, so that a new generation can enjoy using the area again.
The complex is located in a green area. It is remote from the city center but has great potential to become an attractive and vibrant area in its own right. The Heinrich Robert mine is part of a large mine landscape and part of the 400 km long “Route der Industriekultur”; a route that connects all former mining complexes in the Ruhrgebiet. By reopening the area to visitors, the CreativRevier can be transformed into an attractive and vibrant new hotspot in the Hamm region.
By embracing the intrinsic cultural-historical value, a unique environment is created
In the existing situation, the monumental ensemble is very introverted. There is hardly any connection with the immediate surroundings and within the complex it sometimes looks very dark and labyrinthine due to all the renovations. Clarifying the internal routing and connecting the public space and interior of the complex will therefore constitute important interventions within the new plan. By opening up the complex, users of the area will be able to re-appreciate the extraordinary buildings of the Heinrich Robert mine.
Mei is developing a new routing as a backbone for this plan, perfectly connecting with the existing buildings, which connects the large spaces of the various locations. Winter gardens are fitted into these spaces as green lungs, which provide daylight and fresh air, but also form a landmark within the complex. The backbone forms a passage where there is room for exhibitions, display windows and meetings. Both large and small companies can rent places; varying in size, daylight and visibility in relation to the rest of the area. The spine also provides a connection to the higher and lower levels and the surrounding public environment. As a user, you part of the route and community in every part of the complex. The advantage of this is that vacancy in the corners of the complex is prevented, the community can function properly, and the complex will radiate energy again. In this way, with optimal future-proofness in mind, the flexibility of the plan is guaranteed.
A sustainable plan
By embracing the intrinsic cultural-historical value of the ensemble, a unique environment is created with room for a new program. At the same time, this contributes to sustainability, creates a pleasant atmosphere and costs can remain relatively low. The new green winter gardens serve as an intermediate climate and buffer, so that a smart and green plan is designed with relatively limited resources. The greenery is also a reference to the geological history of the place, as the coal originates from the remains of trees and plants. The roof will be fully insulated with PV integrated, creating the potential for energy generation on the roof. In this way, the complex can again provide its own energy, just like in the time of the coal mine. The possibilities for reuse of energy and – in keeping with the ideals of Cradle to Cradle – reuse of materials that are already available, are also examined.
Won architect selection
In 2020, Mei won the European architect selection for the redevelopment, set out by Entwicklungsagentur CreativRevier Heinrich Robert GmbH. Mei collaborates with Bahl Architekten on the design. The preliminary investigation was completed in May 2021, after which the design will be further elaborated for the purpose of the application for the environmental permit and changes to the zoning plan.