Zollverein Kokerei,
Essen, Germany

Our lighting concept for the enormous industrial monument centred on evoking the past while suggesting future possibilities. Part of a government-backed initiative to regenerate areas of Germany, this scheme resulted from winning an international competition and went on to win a number of international lighting design awards.
Internationale Bau-Ausstellung
Werner Hannapel
Project Team
Mark Major, Jonathan Speirs

A Mesmerising Horizon Line

A crucial element of the design is the black reflecting pool. We conceived of this pool, not only as a mirror for the scheme, but also to cast gentle ripples of light on the bunker buildings, creating a mesmerising horizon line between reality and reflection.

Light tells the story of the massive machine, referring to its industrial history when it was used to convert coal into coke to power the steel-making plants of the Ruhr Valley. The composition also works only a purely aesthetic level; bringing the structure to life, articulating its fabric and revealing its functional but elegant design.”

The road/walkway is lit with blue light that acts as a boundary between the white side (chemical) and the black side (coke) of the original industrial process. This creates visual contrast and a shift in perception, while also conjuring up a poetic sense of place.

Strategically positioned luminaries generate texture on the massive ovens, with the angle of grazed light carefully calculated so that the structure is revealed in detail. The 800-metre long building, with its conveyors, gas burners and chimneys, is washed in a rust-red light suggestive of both decay and rebirth. The six chimneys (two 75 metres tall and four 65 metres tall) are crowned with animated red, stamping their presence on the night-time horizon, where they are visible from up to 15 kilometres away.