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An old face

in all its new splendour

Leipzig Congress Centre

Client: Zoo Leipzig GmbH / Location: Leipzig 
GFA: 17,200 m² / Completion: 2015 / Competition: 1st prize 2009 
Award: Architekturpreis der Stadt Leipzig 2015, Honourable mention / German Architects Building of the Year 2016

Service: Revitalisation
 

A fateful success story as a civic centre
When Leipzig zoo's civic centre opened in 1900, it quickly established itself in the city's political, cultural and social life. Dance and folklore evenings, congresses and private parties, the German Gymnastics Festival, trade union meetings and many other events were all held here. 

 

Kongresshalle am Zoo Leipzig

left: The Bach Saal today
right: New and restored elements complement one another in the Wandel Saal

In World War II the neo-Romanesque main building was partially destroyed, but after essential repairs it became the congress hall and main venue of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra again in 1946. Due to the fact that all rooms were in permanent use, urgent repairs were only carried out provisionally or not at all. The state of the construction and especially that of the outer shell and the technical installations were increasingly in need of renovation. After a fire in the stage area of the White Hall in 1989, the house was closed again for several years.

 

Leipzig Congress Centre

A New Life
In 2009, the City of Leipzig, together with Leipzig Zoo and Leipziger Messe, decided to renovate the building. They organised an architectural competition aimed at creating a functional and cost-effective concept that could be implemented while considering the historic preservation requirements. HPP won the competition. 

 

A new north wing between the old Congress Hall and the Zoo

Three new halls
The design is characterised by three key measures: An urgently needed exhibition hall will be accommodated beneath the Großer Saal. The restaurant in the Richard-Wagner-Saal will have its own premises on the west side: the Palmensaal. In addition, a new north wing will be built, which will have a prominent presence in the cityscape facing Pfaffendorfer Strasse. The wing touches the development line of the street and in its form and design is oriented towards the northern neighbouring buildings. In doing so, and together they form a distinctive ensemble.

 

Restraint and referencing the original
The new building is inconspicuously connected to the existing congress hall by a dark glass structure, so that it is still perceived as a single building.
The new Telemann Hall forms the link between the historic main buildings in the concert garden. With its façade of superimposed pointed arches, it takes up the references of the White Hall and translates them into a modern architectural language. 
Today the 14 event rooms are used by the Leipzig Trade Fair as a congress centre, the new Palmensaal serves as a restaurant for the zoo. 

 

The conservation challenge 
The central challenge of the redevelopment lay in the large number of existing layers of time. Repeated rebuilding throughout the Congress Hall's history led to a situation in which several different historical periods were represented in the interior. In each room, restorers had to check which features had been found and decide which time period was to be preserved or reproduced: the one from the 1900s, the 1920s or the post-war period.
Various planning, restoration, constructive, artistic and organisational initiatives were necessary to turn the dilapidated Congress Hall into the modern Congress Hall at Leipzig Zoo.

 

Kongresshalle am Zoo Leipzig

"One of the few modern congress centres in Europe, that bridges the gap between history and modernity."

Gerd Heise, HPP Senior Partner 

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