In 1999, the impressive, heritage-protected brick building of 1904, which used to house the third-largest power station in the world – after New York and Berlin – opened its doors as a cultural event operation. The transformation of the “central station for electrical lighting” to house of culture was essentially based on the urban planning concept of utilizing the veteran industrial site in order to enhance the city centre. As early as 1998, Alexander Marschall and Michael Bode-Böckenhauer conceptualized the “Centralstation project”, whose valuable and diverse cultural programme attracts a heterogeneous target audience and contributes to vitalizing the city centre.
The event programme is presented on three floors: from concerts to readings, exhibitions and lectures to dance events.
The musical spectrum ranges from rock and pop to jazz and world music to classical. Artists such as Pat Metheny, Silje Nergaard, Till Brönner, Nouvelle Vague, Angélique Kidjo, Buena Vista Social Club, Axel Hacke, Max Goldt, Willy DeVille, Emilíana Torrini, and Tocotronic have performed at the Centralstation. With regular children’s hands-on concerts and the LegoLounge, even the littlest ones already have their own programme.
In 2010, the overall Centralstation project added on a social component: the non-profit integration company Integis, whose objective is to integrate people with severe physical, mental or learning disabilities into the general labour market, has taken on the daytime food service. The breakfast and lunch tables, café and cocktail lounge make the Centralstation a favourite meeting point for all demographic groups at any time of the day. With well over 300 events per year and approximately 250,000 yearly visitors as well as its extraordinary concept, the Centralstation strongly contributes to the vitalization of Darmstadt’s centre and has established itself beyond the Rhine-Main area as a cultural centre of attraction.
With the foundation of Cafékesselhaus, Michael Bode-Böckenhauer and Alexander Marschall have been active in cultural management since 1989. They also co-founded other projects in Darmstadt such as Hillstreetclub, Vinocentral, and Weststadtcafé. To date, they jointly manage Centralstation Kultur GmbH.