What started as a small iron works, built by Köln-based engineer Julius Buch in 1873, later became one of Europe’s largest steelworks after it was acquired by the Rüchling family in 1882. The first blast furnace was built in 1883, and four more were added in the course of the next 10 years. By 1903, when the sixth furnace was built, a giant coking plant had arisen on the site. In the 1930s, the iron works further expanded, when a large ore sintering plant was added. The steelworks played an important role in the field of research and development as many new techniques were first implemented in Hütte V. The plant thus functioned as a model for many other steelworks around the globe until it had to shut down in 1986.
Even though the roots of the steel manufacturing industry in this region date back to the second half of the nineteenth century, this particular company was only established around the mid twentieth century – in the 1960s. Similar to many other companies in Germany, the manufacturing plant at a certain point became a VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb), a people-owned-company which – in its heydays – employed more than 10,000 workers. The factory specialized in steel parts for heavy industrial purposes – from whole steel rolling installations to cranes. After the company was privatized, it was split into different branches, each with their own ‘speciality’. Although this particular plant has been abandoned, the company still thrives as it moved its production to more modern facilities.
Designed around 1870 by the famous Belgian architect Charle-Albert, it took 8 years for the chateau to be constructed. The castle is built in a Flemish renaissance style and reveals a perfect symbiosis of classic ornamentation and modern techniques; in which the modern concrete and steel structure of the building is concealed by traditional detailing. Today, after several fires and years of severe vandalism, the castle is in an advanced state of decay.
This immense place used to house the first European postal service (between Brussels and Vienna). Around 1900, a big expansion was agreed, as the site became a merchandise station, big warehouse and maritime port. The works for these expansions ended ten years later. In 1987 this fine example of ‘Industrial Revolution’-architecture became abandoned.