The Middle Rhine Valley is characterized by its historical towns, castles, vineyards and indeed the Rhine which meanders between the undulating landscape. Acting as an entrance to the Rhine Valley, the Osteinische Park has over 1.8 million visitors who are arriving by bus, car or cable car. The visitors are greeted by views over the vast countryside which houses the Rhine. There is a bizarre combination of historical buildings and tourist ammenities. Unfortunately, the historical buildings, especially the Niederwalddenkmal, are visually dominated by the cafe and ammenities. The cafe scars the landscape with its angular building type and foreign materials which detracts from the Niederwalddenkmals and the nearby Monopteros. The signs that currently litter the landscape illustrate the complexity of the scattered arrangement of the ammenities, by housing them all in one modest building the signs can be retired.
The existing stone retaining walls blend seamlessly into the environment; it is on this premise that the concept of the proposal is conceived. This type of stone is used extensively in the surrounding area, bordering roads, the base for the large monument and the prominent material used for the Knight’s hall – in using this stone as a base material it gives the proposal a wider urban context. The existing buildings demonstrate that using a varied pallette of materials doesn’t fit with the landscape. The aim of the project was to weave the new visitor centre into the landscape quietly with no major architectural expression, thus avoiding coming into competition with the Monopteros. To create a cubic form is therefore unfavourable and so the design is over one floor partially hidden underground and extending the existing stone wall.
Horizontal windows and curved walls lead vistors to the main entrance, this is marked at the middle of the largest bay. The giftshop and information are to the left and the cafeteria to the right. In the rear of the building are the toilets which divide the shop and the cafeteria, they can be entered by either side or act independently via the main entrance. The existing cafe is replaced by a terrace which provides spectacular views across the Rhine.