Lord Norman Foster of Thames Bank
The stoker's position
Cantilevered walkways in the Red Dot Design Museum

Cathedral of industrial architecture

The fascinating atmosphere of the Red Dot Design Museum is exuded especially by the contrast of old and new, of industrial architecture and product culture. Built between 1928 and 1929 by the architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer, it served as the power house of the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex for many years. The mine complex, which was closed down in 1986. ranks as one of the most important industrial monuments of the 20th century and was declared a world cultural heritage by the UNESCO in December 2001.

When the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen decided to move with its exhibition, today’s Red Dot Design Museum, to the premises of the former coal mine, Lord Norman Foster of Thames Bank was engaged for the new architectonical redirection. From 1995 till 1996, he rebuilt the house for its new purpose as a museum. The industry left him a breathtaking architecture in the Bauhaus style, which was ennobled by the personal signature of the British star architect.

The new interior architecture in glass and concrete merged with the old pipework, fittings and steel staircases and thus created a breathtaking, yet inspiring stage for contemporary product design. The heart of the new domicile, which is often reverently called a “cathedral of industrial culture”, is the "Schürerstand" (stoker's position). Between steel steam boilers, the entrance to this imposing hall opens, featuring new areas for presenting outstanding designs on both sides. The cantilevered walkway guides visitors along steel girders, past metal pipework and burnt tiles, allowing for a view over 4,000 square metres of exhibition space.