Projects Archaeological Pavilion Elisengarten

Archaeological Pavilion Elisengarten

Let's Do the Time Warp Again -
How to build on archaeological finds?

Typology exhibition pavilion Location Aachen Construction Volume GFA 160m² Client City of Aachen with the support of DSA – Daten- und Systemtechnik GmbH Construction 2012-2013 Competition 1st prize 2009 Awards Auszeichnung guter Bauten BDA Aachen 2014, German Design Award, Architekturpreis NRW 2015, Preis des deutschen Stahlbaus 2014, Nike ‚Symbolik‘ 2016 – shortlist


Photo Jens Kirchner

#The housing in of the settlement structures (dating back some 5000 years) discovered in the Elisengarten designed to function as one of the five “archaeological windows” of the city of Aachen.

With conscious dissociation from the typical glass vitrines found within the urban context, a stainless steel construction encases the necessary glass enclosure. A public inter-zone is thus created, opening up to the surrounding gardens where one is invited to linger and contemplate the city’s history.


Excavations in Aachen's Elisengarten

During extensive archeological excavations amazing discoveries were made: spanning from the Neolithic period (4700 BC) to the high and late Middle Ages (ca. 910-1500) there is evidence of all essential periods of the history of settlement in Aachen from the birth of Christ to the present.

Photo Jens Kirchner

The uniqueness of the archaeological site in the Elisengarten park lies in its layering of different settlement structures from various eras of Aachen city history. This extraordinary historical strata is mirrored in the concept of the pavilion’s shell: the outside shell consists of two layers of diagonally overlapping stainless steel profiles. The space between this open shell and the actual glass housing of the archaeological site invites the visitor to wander off the park paths and discover the archaeological finds. The transparent and reduced construction correlates not only to the building requirements of the excavation site but also to the climatic challenges of the site.
It enables also an attentive integration of the building into one of the most popular parks in Aachen. The pavilion blends in with the row of archaeological windows and provides a further highlight to the “Charlemagne Route” in conveying visibility to the historic routes of the city of Aachen by means of a very specific constructional intervention.

An exciting in-between zone is thus created, opening up to the surrounding park inviting one to rest or engage with the urban history – a contemplative refuge in the midst of urban bustle.
The outside shell consists of two delicate layers of diagonally overlapping steel profiles.

Photo Jens Kirchner

The inner vitrine provides the second shell in the form of a glass enclosure. It enables various perspectives of the excavation site, regulates the natural air flow, and protects the spectacular finds. At the same time it serves as a resource of information: a revolving timeline, a site map as well as a compact and clearly arranged illustration of the found structures and artefacts (printed on a light translucent film), informing the visitor without obscuring the vision of the site.

Foto Jens Kirchner

One of the structural challenges was to place the loads without interfering with the excavation site. The construction is mounted on 32 foundation piles (GEWI micropile). A floor grid of wide flange beams (HEB H-section) lies on the foundation piles. On top rests a trapezoidal profiled-metal formwork filled with concrete and covered with mastic asphalt. The outer shell of the pavilion is not only the essential form-giving element of the design but also serves as the primary structure for the column-free pavilion. It is manufactured from laser-cut solid stainless steel profiles. With a cross section of 50 x 15mm these are diagonally overlapped and welded together at the intersections.

Archeological site Elisengarten

Eine große konstruktive Herausforderung lag darin, die Lasten ohne Beeinträchtigung der Ausgrabungsstelle abzutragen. Die Stahlkonstruktion wird über 32 Bohrpfähle (GEWI-Mikropfahl) gegründet. Ein Bodenrost aus HEB-Trägern liegt auf diesen Bohrpfählen auf. Die auf dem Rost aufliegende Trapezblechschale wurde ausbetoniert und anschließend mit Gussasphalt versehen. Die Außenhülle des Pavillons ist nicht nur das wesentliche, gestaltprägende Element des Entwurfes, sie ist auch die statisch wirksame Struktur für den stützenfreien Pavillon. Sie ist aus lasergeschnittenen Flachstahllamellen aus Duplex-Stahl gefertigt. Mit einem Querschnitt von 50x15mm sind diese diagonal miteinander verschränkt und in den Knotenpunkten miteinander verschweißt.

Photo DSA GmbH

The archaeological pavilion clearly shows how important a small intervention can be to the inhabitants’ identification with their city. The exceptional interest of the public in the history of their own city has been demonstrated by large numbers of who watched over the excavation tent with great curiosity, the many intrigued passers-by during the construction, and the surge of visitors since the construction was finished. The civic engagement of a company from Aachen who generously supported the construction of the archaeological vitrine (enabling it, indeed, to be built at all) demonstrates a laudable form of cultural sponsoring. The project was mostly financed by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia with the firm DSA financing the city of Aachen’s share in the project.

April 18th, 2013
Opening of the archaeological showcase!
posted by
Anne-Kathrin Höhler