Terra nova, Elsdorf, Germany

The colorful pattern of the moved layers of earth at the edge of the open pit mine.

The Forum :terra nova at the north edge of the Hambach Mine, the largest open pit lignite mine in Europe, occupies a unique and powerful place in this bizarre landscape. Like a gigantic stone pressed up from the depths of the earth, the colored exposed-concrete façade reflects the structure and hues of the geological layers of the nearby open pit mine.

Above ground, the building is designed as a “rigid box”, resting upon 14 hydraulically adjustable individual foundations to balance out the movements from the nearby mine. The expansion joints in the reinforced concrete façade
allow it to move. After numerous experiments, architect Dirk Lüderwaldt mixed the colors found in the open pit mine using Bayferrox® color pigments to achieve nuances of yellow ochre, rust red and grey.
These color-coordinated batches of concrete were poured individually in nine horizontal layers at different positions and heights. The specially conceived “musical score” of concrete deliveries made it possible to pour the layers
“fresh on fresh” – as soon as each underlying layer had become firm enough. The detailed planning paid off: the various coloured concrete layers mixed only to the degree desired.
Afterwards, the walls were ground down roughly to make the structure even more similar to the landscape of the open pit mine.