Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex In Essen
Cultural Germany Europe And North America State Of North Rhine-westphalia (nordrhein-westfalen)

The technological and other structures of the Zollverein XII Coal Mine Industrial Complex are representative of a crucial period in the development of traditional heavy industries in Europe, when sympathetic and positive use was made of architectural designs of outstanding quality. Zollverein is an exceptional industrial monument by virtue of the fact that its buildings are outstanding examples of the application of the design concepts of the Modern Movement in architecture in a wholly industrial context.

Consolidation of the Zollverein mining claim area was completed in December 1847, when it was the northernmost mine in the region. It belongs to the Gelsenkirchen anticline, in which the coal seams are deeply stratified. Mining began in the mid-19th century at a depth of some 120 m and finished at 1,200 m. By the end of mining the underground roadways extended over 120 km;they were accessed by 12 shafts, opened up progressively between 1847 and 1932. When Zollverein XII was opened, the earlier shafts were used solely for the movement of men and supplies;all the extracted coal was handled by the new shaft until the mine closed in 1986. The methods of mining evolved as technology developed from hand picks to mechanized coal cutting. The coals being extracted at Zollverein were especially suitable for coking. Consequently, the first stack-type coke-ovens were built there in 1857. The coking plant expanded considerably over the decades that followed.

However, when the Zollverein mine was taken over by the steel company Vereinigte Stahlwerke AG in 1926, a new coking plant was built to process all the coal from its pits in the region. Coke production returned to Zollverein in the late 1950s, when the then holding company for the mines in the region, Gelsenkirchen Bergwerks AG, decided to build a new coking plant to supplement the Nordstern plant. This plant closed down in 1993 because of the fall in the demand for coke. Coal mining produces enormous quantities of waste material, which is deposited in the characteristic pit heaps. The earliest of these was planted with trees in 1895 and used as a recreational area for the mine officials. Intensive mining resulted in a number of subsidences, which necessitated clearance of damaged housing and other facilities. Subsidence exacerbated the water problems in the so-called Emscher Zone, where mining adversely affected the gravitational flow and created large areas of swamp. The workforce steadily increased.

  • The pits : only the foundations of the Malakow towers of the original pit survive;they are built over by the present headgear, both designed by Fritz Schupp in Bauhaus style. The 1922 main store has a reinforced-concrete frame. The pithead baths are in the form of a brick hall, capable of providing facilities for 3,000 miners. The ensemble is completed by the imposing administrative building (1906), the director's villa (1898), and the mine officials' residence (1878).
  • The coking plants at the individual Zollverein pits have all been demolished, but the central plant has been conserved since it closed down in 1993. The ovens extend over a distance of about 1km, parallel to the former Cologne-Minden railway line. Their equipment (pushers, quenching station, screening plant, and loading stations) are all intact, as are the gas-treatment and by-products installations, and ancillary buildings.
  • Railway lines : the original main railway lines (Cologne-Minden and the Bergische-Märkische line) are still in use, as part of the Bahn AG network. The railway connection between the Cologne-Minden lines via the mine to the Rhein-Herne Canal is also preserved.
  • Pit heaps : most of the mine-refuse heaps are still visible, several having been planted with trees and used as local recreational areas.
  • Miners' housing : a considerable number of houses survive in the former Hegemannshof and Ottekampshof colonies. These are for the most part four-dwelling buildings on a cross-shaped ground plan. They are built from brick, with large gardens attached.
  • Consumer and welfare facilities : two of the consumer facilities survive, although one had to be undergo extensive rebuilding after wartime damage.