Preservation of the historic platform canopies of Duisburg Main Station


In the context of an investment program for the modernization of railway stations in North Rhine-Westphalia, Deutsche Bahn AG announced its intention to demolish the Duisburger Gleishallen built in steel skeleton construction from 1931-34 with floating roofs without pillars - even for today's conditions a Masterpiece of architecture - and thus ensure accessibility.
In their place a wave-shaped roof construction is to be built, which would be a step backwards from its predecessor, because the roofs in this design are once again conventionally supported by parallel-round pillars or columns.

The question is whether, with the demolition of a major cultural monument, public money will be misused instead of using it for restoration?

The petition therefore calls for a stop and a revision of the plans.

State subsidies from the federal government and the state for the modernization campaign to renew railway stations in NRW should not be used for the demolition of architectural monuments. Rather, it should be sought in a constructive and compromise-oriented way to preserve all or part of the historic platform canopies of Duisburg Main Station, and to revise the plans in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn AG and the relevant ministries and expert inspections.

In the case of the implementation of the DB AG plan for a new roof in Duisburg, the whole cost is € 1 billion for the renewal of 150 railway stations in NRW, in which the federal state is involved with more than 300 million euros - according to a press report the total cost in Duisburg would amount to 150 million euros - a significant piece of architectural history will be lost, as at the moment there is no desire to recognize at least part or one of the platform basilicas there - equipped with filigree and elegant clerestory windows, which guarantee a natural light incidence, and side ships for the entering and exiting trains - from the time of the Classical Modernism of the outgoing Weimar Republic, for posterity and future generations as a vivid and sensible experience of the architectural history. A piece of world cultural heritage would thus be irretrievably lost by the still recent history of station architecture.

The petition does not argue against new projects, but in the opinion of the authors it would be important to consider where - even aesthetically sophisticated - new buildings could be constructed. Since extensive refurbishment and modernization measures are planned for Dortmund's main station, and the platform roofing there is not as extraordinary as their older Duisburger "sisters", the new Wellendach (wave roof) would surely represent an architectural enrichment there and the history of the station building chronologically updating, without the vividness and clarity of historical places to discard, as it offers the Route Industrial Culture in the Ruhr area with the historic track halls.

With appropriate design concepts and with the participation of craftsmen and freelance artists, the Duisburger platform canopies of 1931/34 could become a magnet not only for architects from all over the world, but also provide the citizens of Duisburg with sufficient reason, with self-respect and appreciation of their own history and culture, that means the architectural achievements of their forefathers and mothers, who have created urban centers of entrepreneurial diversity - including the diversity of forms - from a formerly agrarian region.

In this retrospective sense, the petition presented here asks the deputies of the State of North-Rhine Westphalia and the state government of NRW as well as the federal government to take the prioritization of the modernization campaign of Deutsche Bahn AG, in which the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the federal government participate with large sums. They are requested to consider their responsibility towards the history of the building construction and the protection of monuments and to submit to Deutsche Bahn AG alternative and compromise proposals as outlined here.

It is about nothing less than the preservation of the cultural heritage and the saving of the diversity of forms as a source of inspiration and an innovation engine for future generations.

We would like to thank all the supporters and co-authors of this petition!

Their signatures are a public confession and call for a more conscious and constructive approach to history, combined with the demand for politics and administration, for more dialogue, discourse, participation and democratic co-determination.

If, for various reasons, a population majority is not aware of the historical qualities of craftsmanship and building culture and is not interested in it, and politicians, ministers and planning staffs refer to these "majorities" in their actions, which take advantage of the misery and the lack of interest in general and special educational questions, one can already speak of unconscious decisions. This petition takes position.


Hearty and thoughtful greetings!

Group form & concept

Signed, W.-D. Haberland, Elaine Emile and Dieter Dreipaß

Metropole Ruhr, NRW, Germany, February 18, 2017



Information and pictures of the demolition of historical city districts (so-called "management of the city" since 2002) in Duisburg: