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Metropolitan Studies and Structural Change

The historical heritage of coal industries in the Ruhr Area (2008- 2009)

A chance for the development in the 21st century

Since many decades the Ruhr Area is subject to a dramatic process of economic change. As a result, the former very important coal and steel industry has been decreasing. This process of structural change did not only have massive impacts on the economic and social structure of the region, but also on the spatial shape of the cities of the Ruhr Area. Where head frames, furnaces, dumps, coke ovens and other grounds formed the image of towns and landscapes in former times, the abandonment of sites which where not profitable anymore lead to large waste lands right in the centres of the cities. These sites with their constructural and technical relicts are important witnesses of the economic, technical and social history and urban development. These previous “forbidden sites” challenge us to embrace them in plans under scenic and urban aspects in order to implement a redevelopment.

These challenges have been accepted in very different ways. Exemplary and sustainable regional policies for the transformation of waste lands had been developed and implemented. One example is the „Internationale Bauausstellung Emscher Park“. In all its projects the question of the potential preservation of industrial facilities and their integration in other utilizations as well as their historical importance and the support of industrial-historical knowlegde is focused.

The goal of this project is to analyze the varity in answering such questions and the resulting solutions of urban development. To achieve a further advancement in handling the industrial heritage especially under architectural aspects, the historical development of all former coal sites shall be systematically and extensivly collected, analyzed and archived for the first time ever. By preparing the development of former coal sites, we want to take the chance for presenting the Ruhrgebiet as an practical laboratory for the forward-looking potential development. Within this, the historical heritage shall be focused. To achieve a successful development, the endogenous potential, which also includes the architectural and historical background, has to be taken into account.

Thus, the metropolitan area can benefit from analyzing former industrial sites. The process of economical change is not completed, yet. Still, many sites have to be developed. To use this potential is the main motivation for the project.

Contact: Dipl. Geogr. Corinna Berger, Univ.-Prof.'in Dipl.-Ing. Christa Reicher

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