In the past, the site now known as the Aalen's "Stadtoval" (city oval) was used, among other things, as a railway area. As part of the urban expansion, the City of Aalen envisioned a "beacon for culture and creativity" in this inner-city location. After a fire in 2014, the site still contained fragments of several historical buildings. The guiding principle for a+r Architekten was to carefully preserve this heritage and transform it into a forward-looking cultural centre for the 21st century. The Kulturbahnhof is a building of public interest. Intensive discussions were held with all future users and the municipal council. The need for coordination was significant, and the spatial programme was tailored to accommodate the diverse needs of the different stakeholders.
The underlying concept for the Kulturbahnhof and its historical building fabric was to create a place of identification within the new district on the one hand, and to provide an attraction for the entire City of Aalen and its surroundings on the other. The Kulturbahnhof sits in the district like a nucleus, carrying the memory of its past use while promising a vibrant future for the new district. With its approximately 3,400 square metres of usable space, the building has evolved into a cultural hub for Aalen and its region.
The preservation of embodied energy is a key sustainability aspect that defines the building. To maintain the character of the building, all salvageable building materials from the 19th century were retained. Where sections of the sandstone façade had to be removed, the stones were carefully numbered, sorted, cleaned, and reused. Sustainability was also considered in the selection of newly introduced materials. Additionally, the planning of building services paid attention to demand-related and thus energy-efficient use of resources through corresponding control technology. prizes/awards/certifications: until now 8 awards
In the new Kulturbahnhof Aalen, located on the site known as the "Stadtoval", Aalen's industrial history and 21st-century architecture converge. The entire design concept is based on the idea of establishing diverse connections between industrial architectures of the 19th and 21st centuries and creating a place with supra-regional significance. Several historical building clusters had survived a fire in 2014, including the former railway administration building and remnants of the large workshop hall of the former repair works. Wherever possible, the historical character was revived: At the respective points, the sandstone façade was repaired by stonemasons, and the roofs of the short transverse gables were reconstructed following historical references. A deliberate contrast is created by the new longitudinal gable, a visually restrained cube clad in semi-transparent folded perforated sheet metal, establishing a spatial connection to the neighbouring area to the south. The users of the Kulturbahnhof include the city's theatre, the music school, a cinema, as well as the city itself, which operates a large event hall and a multifunctional foyer and exhibition space.
The entire planning and construction process involved a dialogue with the existing sandstone façade: how to bring it back to prominence; how to complement it; how much damage should remain visible; which parts need replacement, which can be repaired, and which are to be replicated in a stylised form using dyed fair-faced concrete. There are no strict rules for this process, only a sense for making the right decisions.
The new Kulturbahnhof Aalen brings together Aalen’s industrial history and twenty-first century architecture. With great sensitivity, the historical building fragments have been successfully integrated into present-day architecture. In the past, the area now known as Aalen’s Stadtoval was occupied, among other things, by railway tracks. As part of the inner-city expansion, the Kulturbahnhof takes a central position: the building, which now accommodates a cinema, a theatre, the music school, high-quality function halls for cultural events and premises for catering, is intended to have a radiant effect throughout the region.
After a fire in 2014, fragments of several historical groups of buildings with a distinctive sandstone façade and short cross gables could still be found on the site. The guiding idea behind the design was to carefully preserve this heritage and to further develop it into a forward-looking cultural centre for the 21st century.