Fortress renewal

Vlotho, Germany

December 2003
Vlotho is a small north-west German town on the Weser, not far from Bielefeld. Its castle, associated with the semi-mythical medieval knight Greifenklau (gripping talon), has long been in ruins, with its massive curtain wall well preserved and repaired, but not so very much more than that above shoulder level.
LOMA won the competition for transforming the ruins into a more attractive place that would take advantage of the fortresss height above the town to offer splendid views of the whole valley.
LOMA decided to limit their interventions carefully so as not to compromise the remains. Throughout, their intention has been to repair the old work with sympathy and gentleness, and to add to it with new pieces that are as robust and straightforward as the medieval masonry. Almost all interventions are fundamentally of steel, for the most part galvanized, tough and uncompromising as the ancient stones.
Work has been restricted to a few key places. A new roof covers the ruins of the main building where weddings and festivities will be focused (presumably largely in summer). The roofs trapezoidal plan follows that of the ruins, and they are given sense of historical space by using stainless-steel mesh to bound the volumes. In front, a terrace, honed out of smooth marble to contrast with rough medieval random rubble, provides a promenade and, as it were, an ante-room to mesh-defined spaces.
Another major intervention is the new galvanized steel access bridge over the fortresss moat. Above this is a new steel balcony or look-out that projects from the old wall to offer enhanced views of the valley. The whole composition is dominated by a telecommunications tower formed, like the other interventions, with a steel structure and steel mesh cladding. It provides a suitably austere identification mark for the renovated castle and its new role in civic life.
The jury was much taken with the sympathetic way in which the additions and alterations have been made, and by the fact that there is no compromise: old
is always clearly old, and new, new. It is an essay in episodes in time that is capable of many readings. PD

LOMA architektur + landscaftsarchitektur, Kassel
Project team
Ilija Vukorep, Petra Brunnhofer,
Wolfgang Schück
Simone Scardovelli