Last Friday, the formal handover ceremony of the new National Park Center Ruhestein took place. While in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic only a strictly limited number of people was able to attend the event, the ceremony was streamed live on the internet.
Located at the Black Forest High Road, the National Park Center is to serve as a contact point for the visitors of the almost 10,000-hectare Black Forest National Park. The design of the new center recalls felled tree trunks stacked on top of each other. This image was transferred to the center’s building structures in terms of proportions and materials, allowing for 3,000 m² of exhibition area in “boxes” that span up to 65 m in length. The wood shingle clad facade also references the surrounding nature of the Black Forest. Despite its considerable size, this architectural concept allows the building complex to blend harmoniously into the forest.
In 2015, the two-stage competition for the National Park Center saw 160 proposals out of which the competition jury selected 22 entries. Eventually, the design by the team of sturm + wartzeck GmbH, Dipperz (architecture), schlaich bergermann partner – sbp gmbh, Stuttgart (structural design), EWT Ingenieure GmbH, Grebenhain (technical building equipment) and [f] landschaftsarchitektur gmbh, Bonn, (landscape architecture) was awarded the first prize.
The National Park Center will open its door gradually to the public starting in March 2021. Inside the fully accessible center, visitors will find exhibition areas about the Black Forest National Park, a cinema, a restaurant with a sun terrace and a store. Part of the national park administration, such as the museum education department, will also move into the new visitor center.