Location: Emscher valley, Ruhrgebied (BRD)
Client: deelstaat Nordrhein-Westfalen
The Ruhr area in Germany covers 4.400 square kilometres and contains five million citizens. Coal and steel industries dominated the landscape. These industries needed much manpower, hence the large network of cities. The Ruhr area as a whole is a metropol with residential areas close to industrial sites.
Last decennia, most mines were closed. Local and Regional government were forced to initiate large scale redevelopments. What to do with abandoned industrial buildings, empty business areas and a desperate need for employment possibilities?
In 1990 the federal state Nordrhein-Westfalen started a project for the subarea 'Emscher park'; an 800 square kilometre area along the river 'Emscher', floating from Lippe towards the Ruhr. Goal of this project was to give conceptual and practical impulses for ecological, scientific, social and cultural transformation of the area. This programme of stimulation had a duration of ten years and has been finished in 1999 by an international building exhibition. (Internationale Bauausstellung Emscher Park: IBA'99).
During this period, 120 different projects have been realized, financially supported by the federal state. Along the river Emscher and around, a huge landscape parks has came into existence. In a valley with a length of 70 kilometres, touching upon the areas of seventeen municipalities, a network of green areas has been designed, decorated by the industrial remains. A large number of industrial artefacts and ruins aren't demolished, but commissioned with new functions and integrated in a new landscape. These developments have given new impulses local economies, which had to transform from heavy industry towards tourism and knowledge based economy. By these transformations, an enormous former brown field, synonymous for waste, pollution, unlimited use of resources, has been changed into an example of ecological and economical development, with respect towards the authentic character of the area.