Design Meinhard von Gerkan
Partner Joachim Zais
Project manager Matias Otto
Project team Thomas Dreusicke, Helge Reimer, Horst-Werner Warias
Object supervision Staatliches Baumanagement Harz
Client Oberbergamt Clausthal-Zellerfeld
Construction period 1999–2000
Floor area 843 m²
Volume 3155 m³
The new archive building secures the extensive collection of documents on the technological and cultural history of the Harz Mountains. Until now the oldest document from 1524 together with all other archive funds was available for those interested in an attic. Following the idea of a book opened up at a right angle, the lying book cover houses the large foyer offering space for exhibitions and events. Wide leaf doors and a floor-to-ceiling high glazed front allow daylight to enter the generous event hall which is cladded with light cherry wood. The temporary reading area for the archive user is also to be found in this ground-floor exhibition area. On this level the building is accessible from the garden on the west side.
The archive floors where the documents are stored in a moveable shelving system, are accessed via the staircase. Architecturally, this part of the building forms the upright book cover. It stands up as a narrow rectangular plane: 19 metres high and only four metres wide. The façade of the new archive is cladded with larch wood towards the existing mining authority building. This is a built reference to the surrounding Harz Forest. The other, wide flank of the archive building was cladded with a lead façade with vertical division, a reference of the local lead ore mining tradition.
The basic requirement of an archive, the protection of the stock from ultra-violet radiation and climatic variations, was architecturally conveyed with a windowless building. Only a 3 metre square opening on the third floor of the archive building allows for a reference towards the outside: The complete level is penetrated with a light, glazed space of identical dimension. This light and calm oasis is the reading hall. The daylight entering through the wide glass sides introduces a contemplative atmosphere, while the views to and from the inside create a semantic connection to the adjacent historic building and the western garden area. As a decorative detail, the reading hall glazed on both sides seems to be an eye, visible in the façade.
In two or three years the new archive building will fully achieve its intended appearance. Then the presently light-brown larch wood will have a delicate silver-grey patina gained enduring the weather and will be linked by its colour to the lead façade in a noble grey tone.