The Zollverein industrial complex located in Essen, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany consists of the complete infrastructure of a historical coal-mining and coke manufacturing site. It also includes 20th century buildings regarded for exceptional architectural merit. This unique site chronicles both the evolution and decline of the essential coal mining industry of Germany over the past 150 years.
Zollverein was inscribed into the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites in 2001, because it is an exceptional industrial monument and many of it structures apply design concepts of the Modern Movement in architecture. There are two main parts of the site, Zollverein Coal Mine and Zollverein Coking Plant. When coal and coke production stopped in the late 20th century, succession began and birches, shrubs, ferns and moss covered the complex ( Zollverein Park ) . Rem Koolhaas of OMA, Rotterdam , designed the master plan for Zollverein Park . Today many of the buildings are used for art exhibitions. Some have been converted to contemporary art museums, conference halls, cinemas, restaurants, and even a casino. The Red Dot Design Museum, formerly an old boiler, houses a collection of contemporary design and art.
The Zollverein coal mine, was designed by two Bauhaus-inspired architects, Martin Kremmer and Fritz Sharp. The buildings were the first to be constructed with a steel skeleton and red brick walls. This architectural motif set the style for industrial structures in the Ruhr region. The coal mining complex was active from 1851 until 1986. For decades starting in the late 1950s, Zollverein Coal Mine and Zollverein Coking Plant, which was erected in 1957-1961 and closed in 1993, were the largest coal mining/coking facilities of their kinds in Europe, producing 12,000 tons of coke each day. Since the coal, iron and steel industries of the Ruhr area flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the mine was heavily extended (Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex). Pit 12, built in Bauhaus style, was opened in 1932 and is considered an architectural and technical masterpiece. It is often regarded as one of the most beautiful coal mining structures in the world. This immense tower, painted a dark red, is sometimes called the Eiffel Tower of the Ruhr area of Germany.