The city of Marl, located at the northern edge of the Ruhr area, was created by merging small villages and settlements of local miners and chemical workers. When population projections predicted that Marl would become a major urban centre in the 1960s and 70s, the city built a modern city centre including a city hall, tower blocks and a shopping mall. After the closure of the mines, the shrinking city is now trying to cope with high unemployment levels, vacant buildings and social problems.
The city hall, designed in 1957 by the Dutch architects van den Broek and Bakema and built between 1960 and 1967, is an innovative example of German post-war architecture that is representative of many public buildings erected during that period. Today, it is more urgent than ever to answer the question whether these buildings should be preserved. Many people consider them symbols of an obsolete political and social era, while others believe they should be protected as models of a radical architectural utopia.
Exactly fifty years after the city hall was completed, this book is a contribution to the current debate on the topic. It complements the art project Skulptur Projekte Münster 2017, which this year includes the planned city of Marl as a contrast to historical and organic commercial cities that were rebuilt after the war. Alongside historical images and text fragments, the book contains topical analyses and photographs of the city hall, exploring the architectural role of the building that oscillates between aesthetic representation and administrative functionality. It is deliberately designed as a compilation of material that presents different views and serves as an incentive for further debate.