In 2010, an architectural and landscape limited competition was launched by the municipality of Blankenheim, together with the Regionale 2010 Agentur. It resulted in schneider+schumacher winning first prize with their finely judged answer to the competition brief. This asked for suggestions as to how the former Roman manor “Villa Rustica” might once again be made visible to the public. Taking up this challenge as their point of departure, the architects have now enhanced the Eifel region with a decidedly sculptural, walk-in installation.
The portico of the past main building is contoured in its original proportions as a plain but precisely conducted construction. Its transparent lamellae structure made of prefabricated Corten steel offers the visitor an unusual spatial experience in the terrain: a place to linger and to gather information. The primary load-bearing structure of steel beams spans between the rigid steel framework around the columns, onto which the lamellae are threaded and welded in place.
The architects chose to employ weathering steel (COR-TEN B), which, when exposed to weather, forms a layer of rust on the surface. This acts as a protective covering, preventing the material from further corrosion. The portico can be seen in its former volume and extension from afar without simply being a massive reproduction of the historic building. Rather, its attraction is mainly within the high extent of transparency. Only by approaching closer, the portico develops a strong presence and dimensionality.
Further buildings of the past Roman manor are represented within the landscape by contouring their outlines into the ground with lines of Corten steel. Their ground plans are filled with greywacke gravel, so that historic dimensions and sequences of rooms can be perceived easily.
“Here we have a design where the special significance and dimensions of this historic site are made legible in a generous, clear and simple manner, without needing to resort to historic pastiche.” (Jury comment).
The landscape design will be completed in spring 2014 so that other former buildings and paths may again be brought into life.