Nordstern Colliery, Gelsenkirchen, Germany

A new shift begins at Nordstern Colliery.
For decades, the face of the Ruhr was shaped by the coal and steel industry. Today, these are largely a thing of the past; but the industrial legacy lives on. A deliberate restructuring of the region’s economy has resulted in selected blast furnaces and collieries being turned into living landmarks of industrial culture and attractive venues able to cater for large numbers of visitors. A further spectacular scene of industrial history has now been opened for the world of art: the Nordstern Tower, the centrepiece of the Nordstern Colliery in Gelsenkirchen. With the end of coal mining, a top-class centre for video art has now been opened in this old winding tower. The centre is jointly run by Munich’s internationally renowned Goetz Collection and by Neuer Berlin Kunstverein. The result is a perfect mix of visionary art and impressive industrial backdrop. The museum’s floors, which see a large amount of traffic, were designed using the high-class, decorative floor ARDEX PANDOMO® FloorPlus throughout.

The Nordstern winding tower, which was built in the early 1950s in the district Gelsenkirchen-Horst, was designed by the Zollverein architect Fritz Schupp. In 2009/2010, the tower was reinforced in readiness for being put to a new use, adding a glass superstructure and turning it into a new vantage point. Today, the building has a total of 18 storeys. At the very top, on the viewing platform, stands the Hercules of Gelsenkirchen, which can be seen for miles around. The 18-metre monumental statue was specially created for this site by Markus Lüpertz. It proclaims the courage and drive which the Ruhr region has displayed in dealing with its many challenges.

Beyond classic museum architecture.
Inside the old winding tower, the “Nordstern Video Art Centre” occupies seven consecutive storeys. The impressive historic hoisting machinery used during its coal-mining days was deliberately preserved and now offers an imposing stage for media art against the backdrop of magnificent industrial architecture.

Visitors to the museum reach the Video Art Centre by a lift, which takes them to the 11th floor. From the reception room, centred on the mighty old winding engine, a steel staircase takes them down to Level 5. Because of the multitude of confined storeys inside the tower, whose floor space is further restricted by the old machinery, it was initially doubtful whether the tower could be used in a meaningful way. However, the drawback has turned out to be an advantage: on the one hand, these conditions proved to be virtually ideal for presenting video art, with its individual monitors and themed areas. On the other hand, the planners responsible for the conversion managed to cleverly negate the sense of fragmentation using the visual impact of virtually seamless floors, thus creating a sense of openness and spaciousness. To do so, they turned to particularly high-quality materials: the decorative floor ARDEX PANDOMO® FloorPlus. This cementbased levelling compound can be individually coloured and textured to produce smooth, clear-cut floor surfaces in a modern, reductionist look. The surfaces have a high-class appeal and their colour can be individually adjusted to create the intended look. Here, in the Nordstern Tower, a particularly attractive feature of this decorative floor is its monolithic surface, creating a harmonious symbiosis between the new and the historic building materials, and reinforcing the calm, homogeneous look of the rooms. Altogether, floors covering some 1,400 square metres in total were installed on all seven storeys of the Video Art Centre, individually colour-matched in a discreet anthracite hue.

High-class and hard-wearing.
Apart from these visual aspects, the planners’ decisions were also critically influenced by the durability of the material, in view of the large volume of traffic in publically accessible areas. ARDEX PANDOMO® FloorPlus presented a solution that was equally convincing and long-lasting. The material’s crucial “extra” durability is produced by scattering a special type of sand on the levelling compound while it is still fresh. This makes the floor even more durable and harder, without sacrificing any of the surface’s high-class and homogenous overall look. At the same time, the material can be applied very quickly and efficiently. A special finish at the end lends it a distinctive, silky sheen. Thus the carefully chosen material contributed to the convincing overall result at the Video Art Centre. Details about the Nordstern Video Art Centre can be found at www.nordsternturm.de.