Photo © Klemens Ortmeyer
Photo © Klemens Ortmeyer
Photo © Stephan Falk
Photo © Stephan Falk
Drawing © KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten
Drawing © KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten
Grundriss Erdgeschoss und 1. Obergeschoss
Drawing © KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten

Documentation Centre - Memorial

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Bergen-Belsen, Germany
Stiftung niedersächsische Gedenkstätten

Almost two hundred meters in length and built entirely of concrete, the new Bergen - Belsen Documentation and Information Center is an unusual building. Resembling an elongated walk - in, and from the outside mysterious looking sculpture, it lies in the middle Heidewald forest on the edge of the former concentration camp. The building follows the former course of the country road leading from Celle to Hörste, which was altered with the construction of the camp and as such becomes a three - dimensional part of the historic route.

Just a few openings in the entrance area, the cafeteria, the library and the “Raum der Stille” (room of silence) afford targeted views, as if surrounded by a picture frame, of the pine forests outside. This is because the focus of the building is deliberately inwards, to make it possible for visitors to address in depth and without distraction the documents dealing with the Nazi crimes committed here. Not until the very end of the large, two - storey exhibition hall does an extra - wide window offer a view of the former camp grounds. Visitors are now able to focus on the outside once again.

The route through the Documentation Center leads along a plain concrete wall on one side, and on the other spatially sub - divided exhibition areas of varying sizes. And the route is perplexing, as for its entire length there is a slight incline to it. Viewed from outside the end of the building is revealed to be hovering above the ground. Out of respect for its location the building projects a few meters beyond the former camp boundary without touching the ground. Directly adjacent to it, the “stony path” opens onto the camp grounds and can take visitors through the entire length of the building without actually entering its rooms. They pass along a narrow space between high, windowless concrete walls and open to the skies.

By means of its extraordinary design, the strict limitation to just a few materials and the complete lack of decoration the building conveys a clear message. This architecture is resolute and reflects the seriousness with which a difficult task such as this is dealt with appropriately in both formal and historical terms.

Floor area
4.900 sqm


2009 Museum prize Lower Saxony
2009 BDA prize Lower Saxony
2008 State of Lower Saxony Prize for Architecture
2008 „Beton“ Architecture Prize

Other Projects by KSP Engel

Deutsche Börse
Eschborn, Germany
Jiangsu Provincal Art Museum
Jumeirah Hotel
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
DORMA Headquarter
Ennepetal, Germany
s.Oliver headquarters
Rottendorf, Germany