Eisengießerei Baumgarte

Bielefeld, Germany
Christoph Buschmeier
Emotion, Emotion GRIP, Plural

Eisengießerei Baumgarte

Changing space

At Eisengießerei Baumgarte (iron foundry) established in Bielefeld at the beginning of the 1930s, the well-being of the employees has always played an important part. This becomes apparent in the form of financial supports in case of illness and the provision of company-owned apartments just as by the establishment of changing and washing areas, which permit the workers a comfortable transition between working and private life.

The change and wash house (called “Waschkaue”) erected in 1969 on the factory premises represents an achievement which is widely spread especially in the mining industry: the “black section” serves for storing the working clothes soiled by carbon and metal dust, while clean everyday clothes are stored in the “white section” - in both cases, metal baskets and clothes hooks are available for this, which can be hoisted under the ceiling by means of chains. To ensure a clear spatial separation, generous shower areas are provided between the two areas.

After the change and wash house had shown its age, the former tiled floors were replaced by a coated mastic asphalt at first - a solution which did not sufficiently prove itself in daily practice. On the one hand, cracks formed in the course of time, which involved a risk of injuries; on the other hand, it was very difficult to remove the metal particles brought in or left behind after showering (and finally corroded) from the floor and thus to thoroughly clean it.

In the course of current renovation measures aimed at improving the energy efficiency of the building in which, among other things, offices are also to be found, the “Eisengießerei” has decided on an extensive modernization of the change and wash house as well. The ventilation system, the lighting and the windows were renewed according to latest standards, the exterior walls of the brick building were provided with an interior insulation, and the radiators as well as the window recesses belonging to them disappeared thanks to an underfloor heating. The most significant change with regard to the design of the interior rooms, however, concerns the floor and wall coverings. As the surfaces have to be robust, durable, easy to clean as well as suitable for comfortable and safe barefoot walking, Christoph Buschmeier, the responsible architect, decided in favour of tiles. Before, however, the old floor had to be removed and replaced by a new cement screed on footfall sound insulation.

Today, the basalt-grey floor tiles of the series Emotion of Agrob Buchtal (30 x 60 cm, R10/A) used in the change and wash house form the elegant background for the irregular colour variety of the clothes suspended under the ceiling. Same-colour tiles of the series Emotion Grip (15 x 15 cm, R11/B) were laid in the shower areas, which harmonize with the shower panels, the separating walls and the stainless steel drain channels there. Thanks to the Protecta upgrading, the robust porcelain stoneware tiles ensure in both cases that the floor does not absorb any water and that impurities in the form of metal particles are hardly visible and can be easily removed by means of the alternately acid or alkaline cleaning procedures (with diluted acids or alkalis). The stoneware wall tiles of the series Plural (30 x 60 cm) laid in strips in a total of four different grey shades are of the same high quality. Their Hytect coating effectively counteracts, among other things, the formation of limescale.

Despite extensive modernization measures, the two change and wash house sections still exude the pleasantly nostalgic industrial charm of the 1960s. This is due to the discreet colours of the wall and floor tiles, but, not least, also to the fact that both the old benches and the “chain hoists for the clothes“ secured with padlocks still exist. In the end, the interior rooms have been functionally and visually modernized to satisfy the current requirements, and today they prove -more than ever - that the well-being of the employees really is of central importance at Eisengießerei Baumgarte.


Photographer: Jochen Stüber

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