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D-Frechen Housing in the Former Coal Mine "Carl"
The coal mine “Carl” in Frechen is part of a ring of coal mines located southwest of the city of Cologne. In operation between 1907 and 1995, it was built by the Rheinbraun AG company in Benzelrath in 1905–1907. Today, it represents the last conserved facility of its kind in Germany. The former briquette factory is a listed site today, making its previous production process wonderfully legible in the present. In earlier times, brown coal was delivered to the site by train where it was moisturized and processed. The entire facility lies on a raised plateau and dominates the skyline of the area with its chimneys and roof structures. The chimneys have been conserved and are now elegantly illuminated after dark.

Following the maxim that the best way to go about built heritage conservation is to ensure continued use, and considering the fact that the area around the Rhine and Ruhr Rivers has a wealth of industrial monuments, the factory has been converted into a unique new housing complex. From a total of ten factory buildings, six have been conserved. The buildings “Pressen- haus“, “Nassdienst“, “Elektrostation“, and “Niederdruckkessel- haus“, have been converted into loft apartments. Furnished with new roofs and restored facades, they are connected with each other by the site’s distinctive conveyor bridges. The outside facilities have also been redesigned.

In architectural terms, the conversion was not intended to be a high-end design, but rather provide comfortable and affordable housing in a unique atmosphere. The buildings on the coal mine site have very different scales: the former workshop hall was converted into townhouses and a parking garage. All that this required was the addition of staircases and elevators, collectively comprising the so-called “cores” of the buildings. In the former drying and pressing building, large apartments have been accommodated that can be flexibly divided, providing generous steel balconies or sixtyfive square meter roof terraces. In Frechen, it is possible to live close to the city and still enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. The uppermost floors house duplex apartments, mostly as freehold property. The former suction hoods of the coal mine produce an expressive roof landscape. The contours of the roof structures have been conserved. Different ceiling heights of up to 4.5 meters lend the apartments an extraordinary feeling of space. Ten townhouses have been accommodated in other buildings which also house commercial and office facilities. A former warehouse was converted into a parking deck.

A new “heritage axis” was also designed in reminder of the industrial history of the place, leading from the oldest briquette press to the drying and pressing building. Conceived as an open passage in between two urban spaces, it connects the northern and southern parts of the quarter with each other, making its former industrial culture tangible. The conversion was sensitively implemented and took place in several building phases. The concept has proven to be highly successful and has become a good example of sustainable urban development that strives to infuse new qualities into otherwise defunct historical buildings.

2008 "NRW wohnt - Wohnen an ungewöhnlichen Orten"

Treukontor AG, Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Cologne

Planning and Realisation
Planning 2004-2006
Realization 2006-2008

GFA: 16.000 sqm

Sophie Beuter, Ruth Bünker, Johannes Groote,Till Hoevel, Norbert Philippen, Katja Schotte, Bernhard Schumann, Uschi Stengel, Kristina Menken

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