Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex

Stiftung Zollverein, Foto: Jochen Tack.


  • 1928 — 1932
  • Fritz Schupp, Martin Kremmer


  • 1957 — 1961

UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein

The Zollverein Coal Mine Complex in Essen is one of the most impressive surviving examples of industrial culture from the modern era. With their design of the central shaft facilities for Shaft XII, built between 1928 and 1932, Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer created the single most important part of the complex, both technically and architecturally. The industrial monument has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.

The site of the Zollverein coal mine and coking plant stands symbolises industrial history and structural transformation in the economy. Here, Schupp and Kremmer created a high-performance industrial complex with clear aesthetics and a high degree of functionality. Symmetry, axiality and gradation of scale – the organising principles of the modernist formal idiom – came into their own here in a new context.

The curtain wall façades, designed in the style of New Objectivity and made of a steel framework inset with clinker bricks, earned the colliery the reputation of being “the most beautiful coal mine in the world”, even back in its working days. Clearly visible from afar, the 55-metre-high double winding tower rises above the other buildings as an icon of mining architecture and a symbol for the entire Ruhr region. Years later, Fritz Schupp built the Zollverein Coking Plant, which went into operation in 1961, in the same style as the coal mine complex. In its day, the mine was regarded as the largest and most efficient one in the world. An era came to an end when the coal mine ceased operations in 1986 and the coking plant in 1993. A total of 600,000 people were employed here and coal was last extracted from a depth of 1,000 metres.

In the context of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Emscher Park, the facility, which is protected as a historical monument, was promoted as a model project; the first phase of refurbishment began in 1989. Today, the Zollverein complex is the central anchor point of the Route of Industrial Heritage – a 400-kilometre-long trail along the industrial and cultural heritage of the Ruhr region. Based on a master plan by Rem Koolhaas and his firm OMA in collaboration with the architectural firm of Heinrich Böll, the site was transformed with conversions and new buildings by Norman Foster and SANAA into a site for culture, business and education. Today, the Zollverein is a popular tourist destination that is home to the Ruhr Museum, the Red Dot Design Museum, the Zollverein Monument Trail, and the new Folkwang University of the Arts with its design department, plus the studios and ateliers of four dozen creative companies. [KL/DK]


Map legend

  • UNESCO world heritage site

Contact and opening hours


UNESCO-Welterbe Zollverein
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181
45309 Essen

Opening hours

The area of the UNESCO World Heritage Zollverein is freely accessible at all times. You will also find the RUHR.VISITORCENTER Essen, the Red Dot Design Museum as well as the Ruhr Museum und Phänomania Erfahrungsfeld.
Please inform yourself about the current opening times and applicable access and hygiene regulations on site.

conveying formula

Directions by local public transport:

Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: S-Bahn Haltestelle Zollverein Nord
Nächstgelegene Haltestelle ÖPNV (Bus, Straßenbahn o.ä.): Straßenbahnlinie 107 Haltestelle Zollverein

Book: Bauhaus 100 Sites of Modernism

Extraordinary sites associated with the Bauhaus and modernism can be found throughout Germany—pioneering architecture that has enduringly shaped our understanding of life and work, learning and living. This travel guide brings the historical and architectural traces of over 100 examples of Neues Bauen building to life, making tangible the impact of the historical Bauhaus beyond the school, its sites and its time.

conveying formula

Die Baumaßnahmen werden gefördert durch den Regionalverband Ruhr, das Land NRW und den Bund.

Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Essen
Stiftung Zollverein, Foto: Jochen Tack.
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Essen
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Essen
Stiftung Zollverein, Foto: Jochen Tack.
Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex, Essen

This place is part of the tour:

Tour 1

Visit Bauhaus in the west

Krefeld, Düsseldorf, Münster und Essen

Witness the legacy of the Bauhaus in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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© Tillmann Franzen, tillmannfranzen.com