Project Details

The Aachen City Hall

From the Carolingian royal hall to the late medieval coronation palace

Postdoc Project: Dr.-Ing. Judith Ley

The city hall of Aachen contains in its structure one of the most important medieval rulers' buildings in the German-speaking world. The building dates to Charlemagne's Hall of Kings, erected around 800, which was part of the building complex of the Palatinate of Aachen. From 936, it was used by the German kings installed in Aachen for a variety of purposes, including holding the coronation banquet. The hall, which had been thoroughly restored during the Romanesque period, finally became the property of the city around 1330 and was converted into the town hall. This building continued to be regarded as a palace, since the kings used both the new magnificent figural façade facing the market and the integrated coronation hall for their ceremonial appearances.

Since the site has always had a played an extremely significant role in power and politics, the development of this building in particular can be expected to offer insight into the general trends in how stately halls were transformed/modified from Antiquity to the end of the Middle Ages. Despite its importance, a systematic study and analysis of its building stock as well as a critical interpretation of its ever-changing use of forms/design vocabulary are still desiderata in the studies of architectural history today.

The aim of the DFG-funded research project is a coherent architectural-historical investigation of the medieval building and its transformations. In the first stage of the project, well-founded/scientifically sound reconstruction proposals of the different stages of construction will be developed, based on a modern documentation of the building carried out in cooperation with the “Investment Programme for National UNESCO World Heritage Sites” and the evaluation of several earlier but mostly unpublished studies from the 19th and 20th century. Here, the integration of the building into the Palatinate complex and the city of Aachen will play a decisive role.

Finally, the significance of the Aachen assembly hall in the development of stately architecture in Europe will be explored by comparing it to other ancient and medieval hall and palace buildings. The conception of a ceremonial rooms in terms of space and design , the interpretation of the use of forms/design vocabulary as well as the derivation of the practical, often complex structural solutions are equally important. The project shows how the conception and organization of space have changed throughout the ages and shaped the European conception of architecture up to the present day.