KUBAA Culture Station Aalen
A beacon of culture and creativity
Major municipal development projects currently ongoing in the Baden-Württemberg university town of Aalen include one dubbed “Urban Oval”. A mixed-use district containing over 200 flats along with retail and cultural facilities is being fashioned here on a former industrial site of oval shape bounded by railway tracks to the north of the central station and a curving stretch of the town’s main arterial road that converges with the railway line further south. The Culture Station inaugurated in 2020 rates as a high-focus lighthouse project for the rejuvenated site.
The success of the KUBAA project is clearly due to the highly impressive blueprint produced by the a+r architects’ practice and their imaginative handling of a ramshackle legacy structure. This prime example of how to cogently redefine a building was, however, also facilitated by a devastating fire that broke out in 2014, damaging much of a former railway repair works that had already undergone several misconceived extension and conversion jobs. The building’s inner fabric, its roof and the bulk of its outer walls were irretrievably lost to the fire.
The architects were faced with the challenge of nevertheless preserving the industrial architecture’s essence whilst moulding its fragments into a new overall entity that can now rightly be regarded as a forward-looking cultural centre for the new century. Its striking sandstone façades were restored and repaired wherever possible. Sections that had been destroyed were replaced by colour-stained exposed concrete. The smoother surface of the new sandstone elements clearly documents the interventions made.
Architecture and Object
Architect Florian Gruner joins the management team of a+r Architekten in January 2021.
Photo: © René Müller
“Aalen’s new Culture Station juxtaposes the town’s industrial history with the architecture of the 21st century”, is what the architects at a+r have to say about their project.
Urban expansion with regional repercussions
While the side gables were reroofed in the original manner, the lengthy structure whence they issue is now the project’s true eyecatcher: its gable roof has made way for a long drawn-out top floor enveloped by a seemingly lightweight covering of pleated perforated plate transparent enough to afford a view of the ashlar-like structure inside. “A curtain made of cloth or the like springs to mind, as does a contemporary style of industrial architecture,” is how project leader Hellmut Schiefer describes the idea behind the blueprint.
The uses to which the building is put have been integrated adopting the “house-within-a-house” principle. Box-like compartments with both load-bearing and bracing properties have been installed on the ground floor as a means of structuring the gutted space behind the period façades. The new-build block above houses rooms given over to cultural training and production activities. KUBAA injects added life into the new site with facilities such as a music school, a cinema, a theatre and a top-notch events venue that cater to the interests of all echelons of Aalen society. At the same time, it has also become an attractive focal point for the region as a whole, not least on account of its multiple award-winning architecture.
The architects again found the handles they wanted for this far-from-commonplace project in the range manufactured by FSB. “FSB products are timeless and the very essence of good quality,” they say. They sought fittings that would blend in harmoniously with the architecture as a whole – and would constitute a fully-fledged part thereof. The FSB 1015 door furniture fitted boasts a classic design that speaks for itself and sports a matt Stainless Steel finish in the present project.
Photos: Brigida González