WT 2020/21 | The Schwarzenbroich Monastery RuinsCopyright: © Anna Graff
The Schwarzenbroich Monastery Ruins – Building Research, Historical Preservation, Perspective of Use
Master's Thesis by Anna Graff
The Schwarzenbroich monastery ruins are located in the Merode forest in the municipality of Langerwehe near Düren. The monastery is one of the first magnificent monastery complexes of the Order of the Knights of the Cross in the Rhineland and was built around 1340. Since its dissolution in 1802, the complex has been exposed to its decay and has been steadily razed to the ground by destruction. The ground plan of the entire monastery complex, which has been preserved in large parts as an archaeological monument, and the last remains of the walls give reason for research into the building history with a subsequent preservation and utilization concept. The hidden history of the monastery complex is to be made accessible to the public.
The focus of the elaboration is on the architectural-historical and monument-preserving investigation of the preserved components. The accessibility of the complex and the cultural landscape characteristics have been investigated. The current condition of the monastery ruins was surveyed and documented.
The topic was also prompted by the extended use of the forest area by the Merode cemetery forest and the development of the surrounding forest areas. About three kilometers from the monastery ruins is the cemetery forest, which was established in 2018 for burial in the forest. The forest area borders the tourist attractions of the municipality of Langerwehe and connects the hiking trails of the Schönthal and the Merode forest. Among others, the Laufenburg and Merode castle are located in the vicinity of the monastery ruins. Both are popular destinations for hikers and those interested in culture. Walking on the ruins is very dangerous due to the danger of falling trees and falling stones.
The master thesis represents a first-time architectural-historical investigation. It is intended to reveal the potential of questions and research approaches that the former monastery holds: From the archival tradition to the analysis of the building findings to questions of spatial concepts within the walls to the spatial effectiveness in the cultural landscape. Due to the complexity of these multi-layered aspects, only approaches could be pointed out, which, however, may give the impulse for a more profound research.
The concept includes the safe development and sensitive use of the monastery complex. The character of the mystical ruin atmosphere, which has developed over the last decades, is to be preserved and emphasized. A footbridge guides visitors through the complex on their own and provides information on the history on metal panels. The surrounding wall and the entrance portal will be partially reconstructed with new materials according to the historical model. Both the cultural landscape and the rising walls of the monastery ruins are to be preserved and made accessible for future generations.