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.