Duhamel Monument in Saarlouis

Duhamel Monument in Saarlouis

Awarding Agency: RAG Stock Company

Competition Ruling: 03.05.2011

Program: Monument, Memorial

When coal production in the Saar ceased, not only did it mark a huge structural change for the economy, it also stopped the large scale alteration of the landscape. Future landscape will be shaped by the remaining presence of former facilities and the shape and size and location of leftover production marks.

The plateau on the "Haldengipfel" was created through this process and is therefore an artificial surface. Its highest elevation is 150 meters above the valley landscape. The status of this area as "between heaven and earth" and its artificiality give it an almost supernatural quality. Unlike a true summit, it allows an easy panorama. One is separated when in the middle of the plateau from the direct distance views that exists on its edges.

One finds oneself on a sort of island without direct visual contact to the environment below the hill. It is as if one has been pushed into a foreign country or even a new world, located in a different plane of consciousness. An elliptical crater, enclosed by a bamboo field, is found in the center of this plateau. It offers the visitor the Garden of Eden, an idealized natural world, complete with orchards, flowers, water, and animals.

One reaches this garden via a shiny, spiralling ramp that steers from the Haldenweg over the plateau and from the pile of the crater. This curving form of the ramp provides a panoramic view over the plateau and off into the distance. Its steel construction is light and employs as few supports as statically possible. It documents simultaneously the technical work that led to the birth of the hill, the coal and steel industry of the region, as well as the possibilities of new innovations. During the day, one may see in the distance how the ramp curves out of the crater's center. At night, the ramp seems to shine like a luminous crown upon the hill.

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