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The Zollverein School starts building

Impetus for the entire Zollverein World Heritage site
The design process is the conceptual foundation on which the Zollverein School of Management and Design is built. It is a complex development process that starts with the initial thought in the concept phase, includes numerous ideas and sketches, and ends in the third dimension, takes shape, and becomes an experience: a design object for all the senses. This process will be reflected in the new Zollverein School building. As the first new building on the grounds of the Zollverein World Heritage site, the Zollverein School will provide ground-breaking impetus for the future transformation of the former industrial complex into a design location with international reach. The building will also enhance the urban planning value of the surrounding districts in the northern part of Essen and the Ruhr.

Turning the first sod: March 17 th 2005
The ceremony to mark the turning of the first sod in March 2005 will herald the start of construction work on the new Zollverein School building. In his master plan for the Zollverein complex, the world-renowned architect and urban planner Rem Koolhaas described the building as an urban planning 'attractor'. It will be built on the site of the former Wilhelmi screw factory at the northern entrance to the complex on Gelsenkirchener Straße. In early 2003, a jury examined the 37 designs entered in the international architecture competition and unanimously selected the design submitted by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the SANAA (Sejima, Nishizawa & Associates) architecture studio. In the months that followed, their design was developed and fine-tuned by a tightly-knit team comprising the client, the architects, designers and construction experts. One of the most noteworthy innovations being used to turn the design into reality is a cost-cutting energy concept that will allow the Zollverein School to use the thermal pit water that is still pumped from the ground at the Zollverein as a source of energy.

SANAA: Japanese rationalism
Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA) represent the new generation of Japanese rationalism. The avant-garde team is in hot demand around the world and recently won the architecture competition for the new building of the New York Museum of Contemporary Art. For the new Zollverein School of Management and Design building, SANAA came up with a design that picks up the basic functional and effective idea used by the original Zollverein architects Schupp and Kremmer. Sejima and Nishizawa have come up with a sharp-edged bright cube that is 34 meters high and has a footprint of 35 x 35 m. According to the jury, the design, which is characterised by extreme purism, fully meets all of the task's multiple requirements. At the same time, the formal closed appearance of the over-sized cube is broken up by the irregular arrangement of windows. As a Far Eastern counterpart to the austere Bauhaus style, the building radiates an almost poetic power. The design is, as the director of the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York), Glenn D. Lowry, put it when he saw the model, 'like a burst of jazz in the middle of a classical composition'.

Flexibility and openness
From the outside, there is no way of divining the building's interior layout. The Zollverein School of Management and Design will be an outstanding construction that offers a high degree of flexibility and variability. Its openness will invite different forms of communication and cooperation. The 4,000 sq. metres of available space will be used for offices and conference rooms, project and computer rooms, studios and workshops, and communal areas such as a cafeteria, media library, foyer, and a large lecture theatre. This will allow the Zollverein School to act as a bridge between teaching, research, and practical implementation in relation to the planned Design Park as the Zollverein grows and prospers as a design location.