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25 summers ago, the last workers of the coke plant - a type of coal - from Zollverein, in Essen (Germany), hung their helmets forever.
On June 30, 1993, the one that was one of the main steel complexes in all of Europe was bound to be completely abandoned. And yet, where the rusty machines used to squeak, today the relentless uproar of a pool reverberates .
The Essen mining pool © Zollverein
The factory, as with many others in the Ruhr basin, had to find life in the face of the threat of deindustrialization.
During the 90s and the first decade of this century, the government of North Rhine became obsessed that none of its large cities were paralyzed, as had happened to Detroit.
Therefore, as soon as the steel industry began to show signs of economic paleness, local institutions moved to buy until the last pipe and open a period of reflection.
And then the creative duo Dirk Paschke and Daniel Milohnic appeared, who in 2001 surprised by installing a huge pool as a disruptive conceptual element to celebrate that wells 12 and 13 became World Heritage by Unesco. Since then, this work rejoices the children and grandchildren of the post-industrial revolution.
Theater production during the Ruhrtriennale. © Ruhrtriennale
In parallel to the success of soaking, Zollverein has made creativity his incentive for reconversion. Thus, in 2010, taking advantage of the European cultural capital of the Ruhr, he opened a vindictive museum about the relevance of this basin designed by Rem Koolhas where the astonishment is divided between the history of the place and the strident stairs that the Dutch architect devised .
And the soulless and tiled bathrooms of the old complex flourish in August hosting the dance, theater and performances of the Ruhrtriennale contemporary scenography festival . An evening program that takes the baton witness to provide stimuli and dialogues to the new steel summers.
* This report was published in issue 119 of the Condé Nast Traveler Magazine (July-August) . Subscribe to the print edition (11 printed numbers and digital version for € 24.75, by calling 902 53 55 57 or from our website). The July-August Condé Nast Traveler number is available in its digital version to enjoy on your preferred device.