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Gasometer Oberhausen

Oberhausen

The 117.5 metre tall Oberhausen Gasometer is now a symbol of the industrial history of the Ruhr area, an important point of orientation and identification in the city of Oberhausen and a unique events venue. The ‘Neue Mitte Oberhausen’, a shopping and leisure centre, a venue for commercial and cultural events on the former industrial site of the Gutehoffnungshütte (GHH), has emerged in its shadows. 

Built between 1927–1929 to store gas for smelting and coking processes, and with a storage capacity of 350,000 m³, the Oberhausen Gasometer is the largest disc-type gasometer in Europe. Following the closure of the neighbouring industrial plants in 1988, the gasometer become superfluous and was seen by the public as an oversized symbol of the industrial decline of the region.

The question ‘Keep it or tear it down?’ was discussed with great emotion in the city of Oberhausen. In 1992, the city council decided to convert it into an exhibition hall as a project for the IBA Emscher Park. By fixing the former gas-pressure disc in place, several accessible exhibition levels were created inside the gasometer. A interior, glass elevator conveys its passengers to viewing platforms located under and on the roof, at a height of 110 m. The roof is reached by means of a safety lift and an external staircase circling the lift. Measuring 114.9 m in length and with 616 steps, it is one of the longest industrial staircases in the world.

Since 1994, the gasometer has been a multicultural events venue for exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances and trade fairs. The Gasometer exhibition space became internationally renowned with its opening exhibition ‘Fire and flames – the history of the Ruhr area' (1994, 1995), one of the most successful historical exhibitions in Germany after World War II. At the IBA Finale in 1999, Christo and Jeanne-Claude presented the work of art ‘The Wall’ within its shell. A 26-m tall wall built from industrial drums provided a theme for the mammoth interior space and played with its perspectives. Since 2006, visitors have been able to experience the permanent ‘Licht Himmel’ light-sound installation by Berlin artist Christina Kubisch in the upper exhibition space, which is more than 100 m tall.

Oberhausen Gasometer

Project manager: Gutehoffnungshütte Baugesellschaft mbH (Oberhausen)

Architecture: Prof. Jürg Steiner, Architect, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Architektur und Design, Berlin

Restoration: Deutsche Babcock Anlagen GmbH (Oberhausen)

Planning period: 1993 – 1994 modification

Area / size: 117.5 m tall; diameter 67 m; storage volume 350,000 m²