Knapsack Hill is fully occupied by the industrial complex Infraserv / RWE. Topographically accentuated from its surroundings, the plant unfurls decidedly laconic spatial effects in many areas. These spatial impressions are superimposed and reinforced by atmospheric aspects such as the uninterrupted production of steam ‘clouds’ and the elaborate lighting at night. By contrast, the actual operations of the facility remain less visible for visitors.

The site possesses a typical “big industry” aura – the described spatial and atmospheric features of the complex beckon to be explored. On the other hand, on account of its dimensions and lack of public space, the plant deprives visitors every attempt of closer exploration. One exception is the meeting hall, “Feierabendhaus” and the area around the Knapsack entrance. The proposed interventions are linked to the existing urban/industrial infrastructure and architectural features.

The entrance area to the Infraserv Huerth complex consists of a long gallery and an area in front with parking spaces and a garden. To the west a “discovery path” follows along the border of the complex. The gallery brings all uses together in a unique and generously spatious entrance area. It is at the same time understood as a “shop window” to the site. A bend in the contour of the Gallery accentuates the entrance to the premises. A bridge connects the annex building of the Academy to the main building.

The fence around the industrial park runs along embankments and partially through areas with wild vegetation. A replacement of the fence would niether significantly change the existing spatial situation nor improve the attractiveness of the site. Instead, a discovery path is planned along the northern border to connect the Huerth, Knapsack and Goldberg Street entrance areas. The path joins the site’s borders and adjacent areas into a spatial sequence with different parts and qualities. Observation stations and places to sit and rest are interspersed at appropriate spots along the way.

The access road on Goldberg Street leads up to a loading ramp on the premises. This is seen as a linear sequence emphasized by a row of trees and a series of street lamps. The area around the cooling tower is designed as a paved plaza, on which temporary events and festivities can take place.
A gradual expansion is proposed for the cooling tower. The space shall be able to adapt to different uses over the course of time. In the first stage of development a double-flight staircase is planned for the inside of the tower leading up to the edge of the roof. The stairs appear to cling to the wall of the cooling tower. At the top of the staircase a small turret awaits visitors with views of the entire site. The existing observation tower may be refitted at a later date to a complete the tour of the cooling tower

As described above, the actual operations of the plant remain largely hidden from the visitor’s view. At the same time there is a lack of common areas to gather and relax. Two garden designs are proposed for the Huerth and Goldberg Street entrance areas. Apart from their role as common areas, they should provide visitors an insight into the daily operations of the plant and create awareness for the industrial activities and dimensions of the facility.


Ulrike Böhm, Cyrus Zahiri, Katja Benfer, Rita Leal, Anne Wex, Sumika Aizawa, Alexandra, Blechschmidt, Christina Bös, Ann-Kristin Haeger