Wednesday, 29 January 2020
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Red-glowing giant at night

The biggest free-standing escalator at the former coal mine ‘Zeche Zollverein’ in Essen is not only beautiful, but also very popular: every year, it transports over 600,000 visitors on the world cultural heritage site.

(Photo: © Matthias Duschner / Stiftung Zollverein)

The colossus boasts a series of superlatives: 220 tons in weight, 58 m long and two gangways each with over 250 steps. Consequently, the escalator in Zeche Zollverein is the biggest free-standing escalator in Germany.

But it has no need to brag, since it is simply beautiful. Especially at night, when it glows orange-red and as a result symbolises fire and coal at the former coal mine site.

Special constructions of ThyssenKrupp Elevator

The biggest surface building at Zollverein, the coal-cleaning plant, was a huge machine when the mine was in operation, which sorted and classed 23,000 tons of coal a day. Between 2003 and 2006 it underwent comprehensive renovation by the "Office for Metropolitan Architecture" headed by Rem Koolhaas and the Essen-based firm Böll & Krabel and was inaugurated during a big "escalator ceremony" in 2006.

HandwerkThe two weather-proof escalators provide access to the 24 m platform of the coal-cleaning plant. The architects found inspiration in this special location at the heart of the Ruhr area in producing their design. The escalators are based on the historic conveyor belts and thus fit in with the protected world heritage ensemble of Zeche Zollverein, which attracts 1.5 million visitors annually from around the world.

Incidentally, both 23.3 m escalators are tailor-made special constructions of ThyssenKrupp Elevator. They have an incline of 27° and a nominal speed of 0.5 m/s. Today, they transport visitors directly to the 24 m platform of the coal-cleaning plant in 90 seconds, to the entrance of the Ruhr Museum and the Ruhr Visitor Centre. And delight visitors and photographers – not just at night…

Ulrike Lotze

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