Energiewirtschaftliches Institut an der Universität zu Köln

History of the Alte Wagenfabrik

EWI's premises in the Alte Wagenfabrik recall a fascinating chapter of early electromobility in Cologne. In 1923, the "Cölner Elektromobilgesellschaft Heinrich Scheele", which had been located in Aachener Strasse since 1898, ordered the construction of a new production facility in Vogelsanger Strasse on the corner with Maarweg in Cologne-Ehrenfeld.

A two-storey factory villa and an elongated production facility were constructed under the leadership of the architect Hubert Ritter. With its diagonally sloping windows and the striking corner staircase, the villa was based on Peter Behrens' festival hall at the 1914 exhibition of the work federation of architects, artists and builders. As the city planning director in Leipzig, architect Ritter, who also worked with Walter Gropius, placed his mark on the city on the Weisse Elster River from 1925 onwards with his numerous buildings.

In contrast with the villa, the halls in which Heinrich Scheele manufactured electrically driven commercial vehicles, such as ambulances and lorries, retained a rather classic-functional character with their solid concrete-header framework. The Alte Wagenfabrik still appears very modern, even today. Scheele had to give up his factory in 1930 as a result of the global financial crisis. The municipal transport and sanitation department then used the premises as a depot.

After the sale in 2003, Deutsche Immobilien AG ordered the complete renovation and conversion to loft offices. Various changes and extensions to the listed building were removed and the external appearance of the villa was restored. Even the factory halls were restored to the historical archetype. Gallery levels and atria were redesigned as part of the intended office usage. Once the work was complete, the Institute of Energy Economics took the east wing of the former production building in autumn 2009.

Heinrich Scheele, Scheele Automobilfabrik, Elektro-Krankenwagen, Elektroauto, Elektromobilität 1909, EWI Köln, Energiewirtschaftliches Insitut, Alte Wagenfabrik
Advertising photo of an electrically powered ambulance from Scheele's automotive factory (1909)