Stahlwerk Augustfehn

Finkernagel Ross, Apen, 2017


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The structural design had to be changed to allow for a new concrete slab at roof level 

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  • The structural design had to be changed to allow for a new concrete slab at roof level    
  • A vitrine turns a heavy industrial piece of machinery into a museum artefact    
  • The giant glass vitrine houses a newly restored steam engine    
  • Brick, corrugated metal and glass planks are the Hamerhalle’s palette    
  • Internally, the pitch of the roof has been smoothed and plastered    
  • Interior view    
  • The glazing provides a theatre of the steel fabrication inside    
  • The translucence of the glass planks keeps light levels fairly low (workers gauge the steel’s temperature using its colour)    
  • Glass planks blend in with the sky or reflect the sun    
  • The glass planks help to create a beacon at dusk    
  • Location plan    
  • Neue Hammerhalle ground floor plan    
  • Neue Hammerhalle section AA    
  • Aufstocking plans    
  • Aufstockung sections    
  • Anbau ground floor plan    
  • Anbau section AA    
  • Anbau detail section    
  • Aufstockung roof extension detail    

A series of buildings creates a public face for north German steelworks Stahlwerk Augustfehn.

The site, close to the Dutch border in Lower Saxony, comprises sheds designed to house the equipment used by the steelworks that produces components such as wear parts for recycling crushers and chain links and buckets for dredging and excavation.

From 2009, the architectural brief grew in scope and ambition as it happened. First was the Neue Hammerhalle (new hammer hall), replacing the long steel and brick structure that constituted most of the plant’s street frontage. Following this in 2013 was the Anbau (extension), a side addition to the plant’s administration building. Finally, completing in 2017, was the Aufstockung (added storey), again working with the admin building but this time converting its roof.

Brick, corrugated metal and glass planks are the Hamerhalle’s palette. Structurally, it is a simple steel frame with precast concrete panels, faced at the bottom of the elevations with red brick, which gives way to two vast horizontal strips of glass planks above. A large metal door breaks up the front elevation, punctuated by a long ribbon window at head height for views in. The glass planks blend in with the sky or reflecting the sun, giving occasional glimpses of the steel frame or the hot amber steel behind.

The refurbished office block is the result of incremental decisions. What was to be an attic space within the original roof evolved into completely removing the roof and rebuilding it. Similarly, a plan to retain one of the existing brick gable walls was abandoned in favour of a new glass wall. With the primary desire being to create more openness, the roof eave has literally been peeled upwards, the gap filled with glazing that exposes the simple office spaces for the director and upper management.

One of the biggest technical challenges on this project was working with the existing fabric and on top of the operating offices for the roof extension. Because the original building from the late 1800s had been extended and altered multiple times, no one knew exactly what was hidden behind the plaster and below the foundations. 

As a result of the findings from various try holes and wall openings, the structural design, previously a purely timber-based build-up, had to be changed to allow for a new concrete slab at roof level. This concrete slab acted as the necessary ring beam and support for the steel structure of the extension, as well as a good acoustic insulation and essential fire barrier between the different compartments of the office. 


  • Begun: 2009
  • Completed: Dec 2017
  • Floor area: 2,500m2
  • Sector: Industrial
  • Address: Am Kanal 134, Apen, 26689, Germany

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