The 38 meter high Bayernturm (Bavaria Tower) is located in the scenic Hassberge Nature Park in Sulzdorf an der Lederhecke on the former inner-German border. It is a listed tower, which was built in the 1960s to boost tourism in the border region and thus economically strengthen the villages located at the border. The observation platform offered a view across the border, overlooking the GDR border annexe and the death strip that divided the country. By the end of the 1990s, the tower had attracted more than 500,000 visitors.
With the fall of the inner-German wall, the Bayernturm lost its use as a tourist view of the former GDR. The tower's appearance and structure seem to have stopped in time. However, it is difficult to imagine the historical context in which it stood. Nowadays, the structure, which is not accessible to all, simply serves as a viewing platform over the spectacular Lower Franconian landscape.
A place of remembrance and learning is to be created that conveys 40 years of German division in a lively and understandable way. The concept is mainly aimed at a young target group. Furthermore, a starting point for green tourism, hiking and biking tours is to be created, which is to take reference to the Green Belt, the former death strip.
Although the structure was not created out of historical necessity, nor does it have any heritage value in terms of building substance as well as architecture, the tower nevertheless experiences historical relevance due to its recent history and political situation during its creation. The building was described as a lighthouse for the population in the former GDR, who could see it as a symbol of freedom on this side of the border. At the time, people expressed the hope that the Bayernturm would one day stand again within a united and free Germany.
The tower now stands as a material relic for a past and partly forgotten time. It stands symbolically for the hope of freedom as a connecting element between the former FRG and GDR. For this reason, it is important to preserve the tower's independence due to the historical weight that the structure symbolically embodies. Nevertheless, the building needs to be reactivated in order to convey this relevance.
The typology of the tower is to be architecturally preserved and expanded. The existing access to the viewing platform must be improved in order to meet the requirements. At the same time, the energy that is spent must flow into the preservation of the existing structure, keyword entropy. A sustainable and long-lasting concept is to be created that conveys the historical division of Germany to future generations.
The existing structure will be newly accessed by an eight-cornered spiral ramp. This is intended to make the tower an active experience. This is designed to be barrier-free in order to make the structure accessible to all social groups. An open space is created between the spiral and the existing tower, which is to be used for the permanent exhibition. The ramp winds around the tower, which is always at the center of the space. The historically afflicted building itself becomes an exhibit. It serves as a medium to convey the historical context. In doing so, the temporal course of history is to be made visible as a timeline. At the top is the temporary exhibition, which is to deal with current border and division topics. Innovative forms of mediation are chosen that do justice to the space and thus also ensure a transformable exhibition concept.
The new use of the tower is expressed volumetrically through an over-shaping by the spiral form. Nevertheless, the original structure remains recognizable from the outside. A net curtain is stretched in front of the structure, which tapers off towards the top. In this way, the focus of the structure is directed to the former viewing platform and an appropriate treatment of the existing structure is found.
In order to preserve the independence of the tower in the context, as well as to withdraw in the landscape context, the base floor was lowered into the ground with the necessary usages.
A path runs through the base, symbolically reflecting the former division of the country. The tower is located as a connecting element in the middle of this aisle. These define on both sides the two entrances, which are designed barrier-free by ramps. The base floor is divided into two elements. The northern part, which is embedded in the hillside, houses the museum archive. Due to its topographical position, this element is predestined for this use, which is made accessible to the public to ensure an exchange of knowledge. The southern part pushes out of the slope and generates a floor that opens to the sloping topography. This portion of the building houses the shop/cashier, multi-function space, as well as internal offices and staff rooms. In doing so, the spaces can connect to the exterior through the opening from the slope.
The structure of the existing sanitary facility will be incorporated and converted into a bicycle rental. At the same time, the guesthouse is to additionally accommodate a café with minimal intervention in the outdoor area, as the required infrastructure is already in existence.
The outdoor space is designed as a park in order to offer additional value to the population of Sulzdorf. Space-activating elements such as seating, loungers, information boards and picnic areas revitalize the outdoor space. The green roof invites visitors to experience the landscape. The area around the Bayernturm is thus greatly enhanced.