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Premises, Offices And Art Under One Roof

For decades, when people said “We’re going to Pottels & Broskowski”, Halles’ first house on
the square was meant, which was later awarded the no-less sonorous names of “Haus der
Presse” and “Haus am Leipziger Turm” by the “Hallensern” (people of Halle) and visitors to
the city. Since its construction in the year 1875, this building, originally erected in the
classical style, has experienced an eventful history.
These are the most important stages in its history: in 1920, the house was purchased by
Pottels and Broskowski. In 1927/28, a major conversion took place (façade in the Bauhaus
style, which it still retains today). In the middle of the 80’s, it was subjected to what, by GDR
standards, represented a fundamental reconstruction. After the collapse of Communism, the
descendants of Pottels & Broskowski claimed their entitlement for restitution. Finally,
Anneliese Rumpf was able to purchase the house in 1991 and become its new owner. And
here began a new chapter in the history of the “Haus am Leipziger Turm”.

A major construction site once more

A number of outsiders are likely to shake their heads in amazement as they register that,
after only approximately six years, the building has once again become a complete
construction site, from the cellar right up to the top floors. “But another conversion was
absolutely necessary under these market economy conditions”, says Thomas Junker,
authorised representative of Ms. Rumpf, to the Tageblatt (daily paper). “First of all, such a
house can no longer be completely sustained through gastronomy businesses; secondly the
coal-powered heating system in the cellar simply did not accord with today’s requirements,
and thirdly the complete utilisation of the rear part of the house as a kitchen section had
become obsolete.”

Shell construction to be ready by October 1993

Yet it was clear from the start for the new house owner: the “Haus am Leipziger Turm”,
situated directly on Halle’s boulevard, must also in future remain a communication centre for
the people of the Saale city and their guests. The project for the conversion was conducted
accordingly, and the historic monuments authority also had an important say in the matter.
“The change in heating system from coal to natural gas, which has in the meantime been
completed, and some demolition work did however mean that the house had to be
temporarily evacuated,” says Thomas Junker. The conversion work has been fully underway
since October 1992. The authorised representative hopes that the shell construction work
should be completed at the latest on 15th October of this year. “I think that by this time the
majority of the rented establishments should also be ready,” he adds.

An innovation: the roofed inner courtyard

On our tour of the “Haus am Leipziger Turm” construction site, we begin in the ground storey
zone. Standing in front of the main entrance on the Waisenhausring, Thomas Junker
explains the immediate plans for the future: “On the left-hand side, a lamp technology
business will be moving in. The rooms on the right-hand side right up to the corner of the
Leipziger Straße are to be occupied by a branch of the Commerzbank, and the remaining
square metres in the Leipziger Straße, with a newly-built entrance, will be taken by the
Burger King chain with one food-service area directly in the building, and one in the roofed
inner courtyard”.

Art in two galleries

This inner courtyard, with its glass roof and underfloor heating, is an innovation for visitors to
the “Haus am Leipziger Turm”. In future, it will also be accessible directly via the main
entrance from the Waisenhausring. “Not only the many architectural features of the courtyard
will attract the attention of visitors, but they will also have the opportunity to visit two galleries
located on the first and second floors, which have been constructed in a U-shape in the
courtyard area of the house,” says Thomas Junker. The galleries can each be accessed from
the restored areas on the first floor.

Another Chinese restaurant

We are told that, on the left-hand side of the staircase, the Restaurant Köhler will be
returning to its familiar location. On the right-hand side – facing the Waisenhausring – a
Chinese restaurant will open. Don’t we already have so many of these in Halle? I estimate
that this will be the twelfth or thirteenth. The authorised representative for Ms. Rumpf is also
not entirely satisfied with this solution. But “I have conducted negotiations with several
foreign restaurant proprietors, for example with a Thai restaurant owner, with various steak
house chains and others. But either they weren’t interested in the location on the first floor, or
a lack of work permits let them down”. Finally, once the contract had been closed with a
Chinese restaurant owner, a Japanese restaurant owner expressed their interest, but by
then, unfortunately, it was too late.

We reach the second floor, which is to house office rooms for the Commerzbank across its
entire area. An intermediate ceiling has been drawn across the once 7.80 metre-high
ballroom, so that the upper area (on the third floor) can in future be used as a training room
by Signal insurance, which is otherwise based on the fourth floor. The remaining rooms on
the third floor are reserved for the company Rumpf and Partner as offices. As before, there
will be a public passenger elevator in the house which stops on all floors; in addition the
Commerzbank will construct another elevator from the cellar floor, where they keep their
strong rooms, right up to their offices on the second floor.
Investment: Eight million German marks

The “Haus am Leipziger Turm” is expected to swallow up an investment sum of around eight
million marks. Its exterior appearance is mainly to be retained. The masonry in the ground
floor zone is to be faced with shell limestone, and the window frames – which are close in
appearance to the original Bauhaus style – are to be painted bottle green. The window
frames from the first to the fourth floor are to be painted light grey, whereas the entire façade
of the upper floors will in future shine in antique white fair faced plaster. Inside the house, the
old staircase banisters and the granite floor covering at the entrance to the stairs are to be
retained. “And you will be able to find quite a lot of craftsmanship from the GDR era in the
Köhler Restaurant,” emphasises Thomas Junker, who is highly pleased that almost
exclusively local companies are participating in the conversion of the house.