the Kolk: 850 years of history

Preserving the historic Kolk for the future.

With the designs of Konermann Siegmund Architekten (the architects charged with the work), a piece of Lübeck’s old town is being modernised from within. On the one hand the historic facade of the Kolk is being restored in keeping with it’s protected, listed status, while, on the other hand the building itself is being restored and made safe in accordance with modern construction regulations. The 850 year old buildings of Kolk street from number 14-20 will be tastefully joined together in an exciting architectural marriage enabling access to the Puppet Museum through the Puppet Theatre.

Der Kolk ältestes Haus Lübeck

The Kolk – a medieval alley in Lübeck

The oldest house in the city of Lübeck

In the course of the project “Spaces for Theatre Puppets in the Kolk”, archaeological excavations have run in parallel with the construction work. In recent months, these have yielded breathtaking and remarkable new perspectives on the historical urban development of the area below Saint Peter’s church, in and around the premises of KOLK 17 Puppet Theatre & Museum:

Lübeck archaeologists discovered the oldest brick house in the Hanseatic city so far: the stone foundations had to be braced against the massive downward pressure of St. Petri with heavy oak planks and large posts protruding from the bottom of the foundations. These date from the 1170s, around the same time as the construction of St. Peter’s Church.

Margrit Christensen historische Malereien im Kolk

Reconstruction and refurbishment of the Kolk

KOLK 17 combines historic preservation with modern requirements

As Lübeckers, we are proud of the historic merchants’ houses that have stood for over 850 years. At the same time, however, we are committed to today’s building standards. We are convinced that something very special is being created through this constructive marriage of the past and present.

The historic Kolk is to be preserved for future generations. The renovation of the historic buildings in the Kolk is unfortunately unavoidable. Only after construction work had begun and the historic walls had been exposed to the light of day did it become clear that the condition of the buildings was much worse than expected and in some cases posed a real danger to their stability.

Over the course of the renovations KOLK 17 has collaborated with experts from the design advisory board, building research and building restoration specialists’. The overall concept is the result of a competition and the winner was selected by a jury of experts and advised by the design advisory board.

KOLK 17 places value on the historical site and continuously adapts the construction to the site conditions as a result of the archaeological work carried out in the Kolk. The building project proceeds cautiously and values the finds of all epochs equally. In this way, the overall historical picture of the buildings can be captured.

The new buildings are being constructed in the context of the historically mature architecture in the Petri Quarter and will be built in the Kolk as a counterpart to the Petri Wall.

Historical materials and techniques are being used, for example, the  bricks used are in the historical cloister format.

Margrit Christensen historische Malereien im Kolk

Construction site

Demolition by hand

A house from the 1930s was demolished to make way for the new theatre building. However it was located between two historically listed buildings. Therefore the demolition had to be carried out carefully so as not to disturb the historically significant neighbouring buildings containing ancient murals or those which are inhabited. So as to avoid damage to the neighbouring properties, historic buildings and wall paintings, vibration measuring devices were installed in the neighbouring buildings. In this fashion, it was possible to react immediately in the case of possible stronger vibrations.

The condition of the building materials were in such poor condition that renovation and upgrade to today’s standards was not feasible.

The Kolk on our blog

A new cultural institution for puppet theatre is born

New spaces for puppet theatre are being created – this is the largest, most challenging new puppet theatre building constructed in Germany in recent history.  KOLK 17 Figurentheater & Museum will remain an important guest theatre complete with a new theatre hall.

Modell KOLK 17 Figurentheater Lübeck

Six listed buildings to be renovated and converted.  Of one, only the shell will remain standing and into this a new, modern building will be inserted, plus two new buildings on historic land, intricately interwoven.  Highly demanding future uses are to be accommodated within an inflexible structural corset.   A building site in which every shovelful of earth tells a story, but in which every stone threatens to sink, an environment as narrow and exciting as no other in the middle of a World Heritage Site, and the chance to transform this piece of the Middle Ages into a structure of the modern age! No small feat for us architects!

Georg Konermann and Ingo Siegmund

“The design by Konermann Siegmund has two major, beneficial features. Firstly, a completely new theatre is being created in Lübeck – a theatre for puppets. Secondly, the museum will be housed in a building with a listed façade on the outside, but in which a new house – within a house will be built behind this façade.”

Max Schön, Chairman of the board of the Possehl Foundation

Kolk 17 Architektenentwurf

The design envisages a completely new layout and use of the houses in the Kolk: The museum and the puppet theatre will swap places. The building complex Kolk 20-22 will house the exhibition rooms while the corner building Kolk 18 will contain the new theatre hall and a forum. The corner building Kolk 14 will become the new main entrance.

Design by Konermann Siegmund Architects


Puppet theatre & Museum

KOLK 17 Logo weiß

KOLK 17 gGmbH
Figurentheater & Museum

Beckergrube 38-52
23552 Lübeck

Puppet Theatre Mobile Office

Kirchhof St. Petri
23552 Lübeck

Opening Times

Mon and Sun: closed
Tue - Sat: 14:00 - 17:00

Executive Director,
Museum Director

Dr. Antonia Napp

Puppet Theatre Director

Stephan Schlafke

Media relations

Janin Thies