Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rem Koolhaas' entrance architectural addition to Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen - World Heritage Site

I was in Essen, Germany recently to serve as a jury for the Communications section at Red Dot Museum, which was situated right next to the Zollverein Coal Museum, in fact the Red Dot Museum is part of this Unesco World Heritage Site. The architecture is spectacular and is conserved diligently. Rem Koolhaas was invited to do a entrance to mark the entrance to the museum. He added a metal structure that encased a long escalator leading up to the museum. i was told by the museum guide that the authorities and the public were so afraid that he would do any irreversible "damage" to this precious architecture that what he built is completely "detachable" in the event they decide to return in to its original state. This is perhaps an important lesson for Singapore to learn in conservation, which is often more concerned about preserving the "shelf" and paying little attention to the soul of the old building, hence often destroying the original intent of old building in the end. In a (what i read as) humourous attempt, Rem marked everything new he added with a bright orange as if to facilitate the ease of taking down the new bits he added in the event the authorities decide to return the architecture to its original state.

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