Sturm und Wartzeck: National Park Centre Ruhestein | Black Forest - best architects 23

Sturm und Wartzeck

National Park Centre Ruhestein | Black Forest

best architects 23

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Ruhestein pass, Germany


Achim Birnbaum


The visitor centre of the newly founded Black Forest National Park is located at the Ruhestein pass (915 metres above sea level) in the middle of a unique landscape. The main characteristic of the first national park in Baden-Württemberg is the native primeval forest with its distinctive deadwood trunks. Here, bent tree trunks piled on top of each other become visible, and even the natural forest floor displays a structure of layered branches. Following the motto of the national park («a trace wilder»), the architecture of the visitor centre consists of staggered elongated blocks that stretch like fingers into the surrounding forest. The analogy to the forest continues in terms of the surface and materiality of the façade. Silver-grey shingles reproduce the colour and texture of the scaled fir trunks. While the transverse skywalk reaches deep into the woods, the leaning observation tower rises over the treetops as a widely visible landmark. The blocks are arranged at different angles, according to the internal logic of the building. The intersecting wings housing the permanent exhibition, for example, guide visitors on a slowly descending path through the cosmos of the Black Forest. Furthermore, the building offers a restaurant with a sun terrace as well as a cinema, training rooms, lecture rooms and the administrative offices of the visitor centre.