Historical Archive of Cologne / Waechter + Waechter Architekten

Architects: Waechter + Waechter Architekten BDA
Area: 22,580 m²
Year: 2021
Photography: Brigida González
Manufacturers: Gutmann, Hunter Douglas Architectural (Europe)
Lead Architect: Felix Waechter, Sibylle Waechter
Project Managers: Stephen Erkel, Michael Kohaus
Team: Kathrin Sattler, Esther Ferreira Lopes, Walter Hein, Denise Finkernagel, Yan Zhang, Todor Nachev
Client: Gebäudewirtschaft der Stadt Köln
City: Köln
Country: Germany

Historical Archive of Cologne, designed by Waechter + Waechter Architekten BDA, serves as a central repository for the Historical Archive and the Rhenish Picture Library in Köln, Germany. The three-story structure includes a windowless central core, known as the ‘treasure house,’ surrounded by a protective shell. This design ensures the safe storage of archival materials. Public areas, workshops, and laboratories are located in the surrounding ring-shaped building. Completed in 2021, the building integrates seamlessly into its urban context and emphasizes sustainability and energy efficiency.

Historical archive of cologne / waechter + waechter architekten

A three-storey shell building envelops the archival documents protectively. The windowless ‘shrine’ rises from this elongated protective structure like a treasure house. This central structure houses the Historical Archive and the Rhenish Picture Library. Surrounding this, workshops, laboratories, and public areas occupy the ring-shaped building. A square and a longitudinal inner courtyard separate the treasure house and the protective shell, with greenery extending from the adjacent park.

Historical archive of cologne / waechter + waechter architekten

Urban planning continues the series of institute buildings. The funnel-shaped square facing Luxemburger Strasse serves as a forecourt and an entrance to the planned park. The entrance façade provides a glimpse into the exhibition space, through the foyer, the inner courtyard, and onto the magazine building’s facade. The upper floor reading room opens to the urban space via a transparent facade, highlighting the building’s civic importance.

Historical archive of cologne / waechter + waechter architekten

Visitors enter a sequence of interconnected rooms for exhibitions, lectures, research, and discussions. Varied open spaces and the use of white oiled Douglas fir in the ground floor exhibition room and upper floor reading room create an inviting and calm atmosphere. Large reading tables and an open-access library support concentrated research. The two-storey foyer with gallery-like access connects different areas and offers views into the exhibition, reading room, and green inner courtyard.

Historical archive of cologne / waechter + waechter architekten

The architectural bronze facade varies with light and shadow, creating a dynamic appearance. The windowless facade safely stores the archives in shelves and cupboards. The compact storage arrangement and the massive magazine construction ensure climate stability for long-term preservation.

From the ring-shaped access, diverse views of inner courtyards open up. The facades with vertical and horizontal slats appear different from various angles, optimizing natural daylight use and protecting rooms from direct sunlight. The architectural bronze facade contributes to energy efficiency and conservation requirements. The building embodies the Historical Archive and the Rhenish Picture Library’s role as a treasure house and a space for research and exchange.

Historical archive of cologne / waechter + waechter architekten
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: 5 Eifelwall, Köln 50674, Germany

Leave a Comment