Kokerei Zollverein Essen



Artist direction: Andrea Breth, Christian Boltanski, Jean Kalman

Built in 1958-1961 as part of the Zollverein XII colliery in the north of Essen, the Kokerei Zollverein was onceEurope's most modern coking plant. It had two main production areas, extending over some 40 hectares: one converting fossil coal into coke and the other yielding coke-oven by-products such as ammonia and tar.

Fritz Schupp, who had already designed the colliery's pit No. 12 together with Martin Kremmer in the years 1927 to 1932, also designed the Kokerei Zollverein. Schupp adopted the colliery's unadorned architectural style to produce cubic buildings made of concrete with facades of steel framework and brick.

The coking plant was in part supplied by coal from pit No. 12. The coal was transported by conveying bridge from the weighing tower to the mixing plant, where it was joined by coal from other pits (such as Nordstern). Twelve coal bunkers stored the various types of coal used to produce the best mixture for the coking process. Further conveying bridges brought this coking mix to the coal storage towers that supplied the blast furnaces. The fossil coal was then converted into coke in ten batteries of coking ovens – with an overall length of 800 metres – at a temperature of over 1000°C. The coking plant had a workforce of up 1000 people.

As a result of the decline in steel production and the resulting fall in demand for coke, the coking plant was shut down on 30 June 1993. Plans to sell it to Chinafell through. It was eventually saved from demolition and transferred to the Stiftung Industriedenkmalpflege und Geschichtskultur (Foundation for the Preservation of Industrial Monuments and Cultural History). The foundation is dedicated to maintaining the site and its structures as well as opening them up to the public and establishing new uses for the historical buildings.

The mixing plant has acquired particular importance as an exhibition space open to visitors. Stairways wind their way downwards round a former coal bunker; huge breaks in the wall surfaces and a newly installed level made of steel allow visitors to move from bunker to bunker, exploring the plant's dimensions and following the path once taken by the coal.

The Kokerei Zollverein was granted protected monument status in the year 2000 and listed by the UNESCO the following year as part of the Zeche Zollverein Colliery World Heritage Site. Today, the coking plant stands as a symbol both of industrial history and of structural change. The coking plant's former salt store houses an installation by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov and the adjacent salt factory was the venue for conductor Schorsch Kamerun's production of Hanns Eisler's Hollywood Elegien during the RuhrTriennale's first season.


Arendahls Wiese
45141 Essen