Lichtinstallation 320 Grad Licht von Urbanscreen, © Thomas Wolf

Gas­o­met­er in Ober­hausen

In­dus­tri­al cul­ture’s mir­acle space-saver

Where once gas was stored a pan­or­amic el­ev­at­or now op­er­ates: won­der­ful views from 117 metres above sea level and fas­cin­at­ing ex­hib­i­tions are sure to in­spire at the Gas­o­met­er Ober­hausen.

The as­ton­ished whis­pers of vis­it­ors trav­el­ling in the pan­or­amic lift up to the dome are an every­day oc­cur­rence here: this gas hold­er is a mo­nu­ment­al wit­ness to heavy in­dustry and an in­spir­ing space for artist­ic de­bate. The Gas­o­met­er Ober­hausen (Ober­hausen gas hold­er) im­presses vis­it­ors with an in­com­par­able ex­per­i­ence of space with­in the 117-metre former gas stor­age tank. A glance out­side then re­veals a pan­or­amic view from the ob­ser­va­tion plat­form across the west­ern Ruhr Area , with much more still in store.

Al­though its out­er wall ac­tu­ally has twenty-four corners, it ap­pears to be a smooth cyl­in­der from both in­side and out­side. There is a power­ful sen­sa­tion of empti­ness, which at­tracts in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned artists and ex­hib­i­tion or­gan­isers to Ober­hausen. Con­certs and ex­hib­i­tions have chosen to make the most of what this in­dus­tri­al monu­ment?s range of ex­traordin­ary acous­tic and spa­tial fea­tures have to of­fer. Ex­amples in­clude Christo?s stacks of col­our­ful bar­rels, a huge mod­el of the moon, mys­tic­al video in­stall­a­tions and a 40-metre high primev­al tree.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of vis­it­ors are fas­cin­ated by the chan­ging ex­hib­i­tions

In 2013 Christo once again spec­tac­u­larly placed the gas hold­er in the lime­light. The ?Big Air Pack­age?, a bound air pack­age meas­ur­ing around 90 metres in height, at­trac­ted more than 440,000 vis­it­ors. Since 2014, the ?Ap­pear­ance of Beauty? ex­hib­i­tion, with some 150 large-format pho­to­graphs, has presen­ted a kal­eido­scope of beauty span­ning the his­tory of art. Due to pop­u­lar de­mand, the ex­hib­i­tion has been ex­ten­ded un­til Novem­ber 2015. The ?320° Light? in­stall­a­tion, which is part of the same ex­hib­i­tion, pro­jects a fas­cin­at­ing in­ter­play of shapes and light onto the in­teri­or wall. With nearly 20,000 square metres of area played upon, the in­stall­a­tion is among the world?s largest in­teri­or pro­jec­tions.

The largest gas stor­age tank in Europe, the Gas­o­met­er was built at the end of the 1920s and was used for the tem­por­ary stor­age of gases pro­duced in cok­ing plants and iron­works, which would then be used to fire the rolling mills. Float­ing on top of the gas was a huge disc, which is now fixed at a height of four-and-a-half metres to provide the enorm­ous in­teri­or with the first-floor ex­hib­i­tion space. The Gas­o­met­er was de­com­mis­sioned in 1988 after the Os­ter­feld cok­ing plant was shut down. There were a num­ber of ideas for its fu­ture use but Ober­hausen city coun­cil only nar­rowly voted in fa­vour of pre­serving it. They de­cided to con­vert it in­to a cul­tur­al space in time for the ?In­ter­na­tion­al Build­ing Ex­hib­i­tion Em­scher Park? pro­ject in 1994. Today it serves as a prime ex­ample of the po­ten­tial for trans­form­a­tion of un­usu­al in­dus­tri­al fa­cil­it­ies.

An ideal start­ing point for fur­ther (in­dus­tri­al) cul­tur­al ex­per­i­ences

As an an­chor point on the Route der In­dus­triekul­tur (In­dus­tri­al Her­it­age Trail), the Gas­o­met­er Ober­hausen forms part of one of the most dis­tin­guished and mo­nu­ment­al loc­a­tions in the Ruhr Area. Ober­hausen?s loc­a­tion lends it­self as an ideal start­ing point for fur­ther vis­its to oth­er in­dus­tri­al monu­ments: the Land­scape Park Duis­burg Nord, the UN­ESCO World Her­it­age Site at Zollver­ein Coal Mine In­dus­tri­al Com­plex in Es­sen and the Jahrhun­der­thalle Bo­chum are eas­ily ac­cess­ible by car or pub­lic trans­port. For guests who prefer to travel by foot, a vis­it to the Lud­wig Gal­lery in Ober­hausen Castle with its chan­ging ex­hib­i­tions would prove worth­while. The large Centro shop­ping centre is also loc­ated nearby. There, vis­it­ors not only have the op­por­tun­ity to shop, but also to vis­it the Sealife Aquar­i­um, Aquapark swim­ming pool or Leg­o­land Dis­cov­ery Centre.


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Lichtinstallation 320 Grad Licht von Urbanscreen, © Thomas Wolf
Lichtinstallation 320 Grad Licht von Urbanscreen im Gasometer Oberhausen, © Thomas Wolf
BIG AIR PACKAGE Gasometer Oberhausen 2013, © Wolfgang Volz
Ansicht auf das Gasometer Oberhausen, © Ruhr Tourismus GmbH / Jochen Schlutius

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