It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the adaptive reclamation of abandoned industrial spaces, so after seeing Architizer's small string of industrial conversions yesterday I was reminded of one of my new favorites. The recently completed Ruhr Museum in Essen houses a large local archeological and natural history collection within an old coal washing plant.
Initially renovated to a visitors center as part of a masterplan designed OMA (images above), HG Merz of Stuttgart was commissioned to further develop the space to accommodate the museum’s collection.
The new exhibit areas are delicately placed throughout the massive space, in which over 80% of the original industrial equipment was left in tact. As such, the building itself becomes as much a part of the exhibit as the museum’s curated collection.
The areas where the exhibits are located work in tandem with the raw spaces; they were carefully designed not to overpower the character of the original structure, but rather exploit it’s imperfections to the benefit of the items on display.
While a complicated task that forced the architects to work around a labyrinth of spaces and objects not entirely conducive to museum display, the strategy is entirely appropriate for a cultural institution whose objective it is to display the history of Essen: the industrial structure becomes another logical element of the museum’s collection.