NRW State Archive

Duisburg, Germany | C.2013

Photo Credit: Vasilmann

Driving through Duisburg, Germany, one will notice a towering gable-roofed structure surrounded by an old warehouse with windows boarded up with brick. No, the building isn’t an abandoned factory – quite the opposite, in fact. This impressive building clad in brick is the home to the archives of the state of North Rhine Westphalia.

Originally built in the 1930s as a corn storage facility, the property’s redesign was completed in 2013 by the architecture firm of Ortner & Ortner. Applying an artful approach, they chose to acknowledge the characteristics of the structure including its height, materials, and existing architecture. The 250-foot-high tower now includes 92 miles of shelving.

When considering the building as archival space, the design firm took into account the environmental factors involved with storing large volumes of paper. The firm decided to close up the windows in the warehouse to block sunlight. A newly-designed building nearby would serve wholly as office space with the intention to safely separate the archives and help to regulate their temperature.

Preservation was crucial as the State Archive materials date back to the 9th century, including certificates, film, sound recordings, and even maps from the Middle Ages. Closely associated with the region’s academic and cultural institutions, lectures, exhibitions, and publications are also archived here as well.

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