Cologne Historical Archives / Waechter + Waechter Architekten
Text description provided by the architects. A three-story shell-shaped building protectively hugs the archival material – the windowless, auratic “shrine” rises from the elongated protective structure like a treasure house. The treasure house is centrally located and houses the collections of the historical archives and the Rhine photo library. The workshops, laboratories and working rooms of the archives, as well as the public spaces, are in the structure of the ring-shaped building. A square and a longitudinal interior courtyard are cut between the treasure house and the protective sheath, the green of the still neighboring park to the south continues inside.
In terms of town planning, the series of buildings of the institute will be continued. The funnel-shaped square facing Luxemburger Strasse serves as a square for exchanges and meetings before or after the visit and as an entrance to the planned park. Even before entering the building, the generous, thresholdless entrance facade of Luxemburger Strasse provides an overview of the exhibition space, through the foyer, inner courtyard and the facade of the magazine building. The reading room on the upper floor also opens as a showcase on the urban space via the transparent facade and thus expresses the importance of the building as a citizen archive.
Inside, visitors are greeted by a series of fluidly nested rooms for exhibitions, lectures and discussions, learning and research. Young and old, open spaces – density and width – alternate. The exhibition room on the ground floor and the reading room upstairs, upholstered in white oiled Douglas fir, appear welcoming and cheerful and at the same time allow a pleasantly calm atmosphere. Large reading tables and a free-access library provide an ideal place for concentrated research; varied visual relationships contribute to an atmosphere of openness and communication. The two-story foyer with its gallery-like access connects the two areas and delights visitors with exciting spatial sequences along the interior courtyard facade. From there, your gaze wanders through the exhibition and the reading room as well as the leafy interior courtyard with the magazine.
A varied image of light and shadow, depending on the incidence of light, emerges on the multi-edged architectural bronze. Protected behind the windowless facade, documents from the historical archives and the Rhine photo library are safely stored in shelves and cupboards. The compact layout and optimal location of each storage room as well as the massive warehouse construction ensure the climatic stability required for the safe and secure storage of archives.
From the ring-shaped access, various views of the trees and grasses of the interior courtyards of different sizes open up. The facades with the “sunshade” of vertical and horizontal slats appear completely different depending on the viewing angle – open and closed at the same time. The construction allows the optimal use of natural daylight, at the same time the deep revelations protect the rooms from direct sunlight. The facade with its changing colors of architectural bronze and the constantly changing play of light and shade thus significantly contributes to meeting the high demands for energy and the conservation of the indoor climate in a sustainable way. The building embodies the claim and the self-image of the historical archives and the Rhine photo library as a historical treasure and as an inviting space for research and exchange.