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City Hall Hans-Sachs-Haus

GMP - Von Gerkan, Marg und Partner

City Hall Hans-Sachs-Haus
By Caterina Testa -

From its beginnings in 1920 through to its recent conversion and re-opening, the Hans-Sachs-Haus has always been a key civic feature of the German Ruhr-valley city of Gelsenkirchen.
The rounded edges of its brick façade and the different sized lights indicating the different activities within were explicit references by the original architect, Alfred Fischer, to the social and democratic ideals of the Bauhaus school during the Weimar Republic (1919 - 1933).
The Hans-Sachs-Haus was conceived as a civic centre for musical, theatrical and sporting events as well as for conferences and exhibitions. It boasted one of the country’s largest concert organs, contained a hotel and library and also made room for a series of town hall offices. Badly damaged during the Second World War, the building was gradually abandoned during the 1960s and ‘70s. A subsequent decision by local politicians to have it demolished was met, however, by a public outcry that eventually led to its restoration and recent re-opening.
Apart from the building’s façade - a listed monument that the new programme has duly retained - the Hans-Sachs-Haus’ heritage extends well beyond its architectural value as an historic monument; it has been and remains essential to the place-identity of generations of citizens for whom it has symbolized a community space.
gmp won the conversion competition with a restoration project that preserves Fischer’s heritage, albeit with contemporary functional concepts and materials. The new programme replaced the 1950s extension to create a covered inner court in a re-interpretation of Fischer’s community-space intentions. A glazed west façade now provides a permeable interface between this inner space and the adjacent outside square.
Although now largely occupied by town hall offices, the refurbished building’s large inner court, designed for a multitude of events, reflects the...

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