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UNIT #1 Sustainable Urban Renewal in Former Industrial Areas

How to integrate climate and sustainability targets into the transformation of former industrial regions

This course unit examines concepts and strategies of sustainable urban revitalization, and the renewal of German cities, using the example of the Ruhr area (Dortmund, Bochum, Essen, Duisburg). The unit aims to address the challenges of structural transformation, and how these can be managed. Special emphasis is placed on the concepts of ecological renewal and restoration, and their function as a key to economic and social progress, the transformation of industrial heritage, and urban revitalization.

1) Welcome Length: 6 min

In the WELCOME session, GIZ, Markus Delfs, Head of Cluster Sustainable Transition, and Cao Handuo, Technical Advisor, GIZ Beijing, introduce the contextual background. Dr. Daniel Krahl delivers a welcome message by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The INTRODUCTION session explains the overall course approach and its elements. It also contains a Thematic Introduction Key NoteSustainable Urban Renewal in former Industrial Areas’  that provides background information and summarises training messages. Both are provided by the lead training advisor and course host, Monika Zimmermann.

3) Thematic City Video Length: 15 min

The THEMATIC CITY VIDEOS are an informational and inspirational form of knowledge input, based on voices from various experts and illustration through projects. With the mission to give an understanding of the driving forces of urban renewal in former industrial areas the THEMATIC CITY VIDEO presents various examples of urban redevelopment projects in the Ruhr metropolis. 

A handout with project profiles offers additional technical information.

See underlined download link below. 

Lead expert: 

Sebastian Schlecht; Special Project Advisor of the European Green Capital Essen; Founder of – the landscape and architecture laboratory; Representative of CITYMAKERS China-Europe Ruhr Network; MSc Architecture & Urban Planning.

Phönix Area, Dortmund.

Redevelopment of former industrial sites into a technology park, high-quality housing, offices and recreational facilities, including the creation of a new lake at the heart of the neighbourhood. The Phönix project was awarded the German Town PLanning Award in 2018. 

Interviewee: Dr Ludger Wilde, Deputy Mayor of Environment, Planning and Housing, City of Dortmund 

Krupp Park, Essen.

Urban revitalization of former ThyssenKrupp industrial steel plant and environs into a recreational area. The Krupp Park Essen is one of the largest urban revitalization projects in Germany, significantly enhancing the ecological quality of the area and reconnecting the city of Essen.  

Interviewee: Roxanne Ingmanns, MSc Landscape Architect AKNW / BNT, Director Urban Landscape Design, LAND Germany GmbH

MARK 51°7, Bochum.

Redevelopment of a former automobile production base into a science and innovation park. Mark 51°7 won the Polis Award of the German Bundesstiftung Baukultur for its innovative approach to urban land recycling.

Interviewee: Ralf Meyer, CEO Bochum Economic Development Corporation 

Transformation of a coal mine industrial complex into a prime site for art and culture. An important part of the industrial complex is the surrounding nature park sheltering a wide diversity of species. As one of the most impressive industrial monuments on the planet, the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex was granted the designation of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

Interviewee: Prof. Dr Hans-Peter Noll, Chairman of Zollverein (Association), Professor of Geography, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

4) City Walk Video Length: 7 min

CITY WALKS offer a complementary immersive city experience related to the course topics.  The ‘Walk in Ruhr Valley’ takes participants along the Emscher riverbank – a former sewer which is now being renaturalised – focusing on water as a resource in the former Dortmund steel plant, known today as Lake Phoenix.

5) Expert Talks Length: 130 min

The EXPERT TALKS session provides the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of the course content. The expert talks – all recorded in April and May 2021 – include PPT-supported lectures and an interview. The session also includes a webinar from another SGUP course from 2020 as well as a thematically related video film on Duisburg from a CITYMAKERS project.

Sebastian Schlecht, Strategic Management,  European Green Capital Essen, Department for Environment, Mobility and Sports, City of Essen

Simone Raskob, Vice Mayor, Environment, Mobility and Sports, City of Essen.

Michael Leischner, Head of Department for Climate Protection, Air Control and Noise Reduction, City of Dortmund

Dr Ludger Wilde, City of Dortmund

Heike Maus, Officer, International Department, Municipality of Duisburg and others

6) Transfer & Application Length: 20-45 min

This element includes questions for participants to help them review and evaluate the information provided so far, consider takeaways and reflect on possible transferability. The questionnaire can be completed individually or as part of guided teamwork.

7) Further Resources

This compilation of background information, studies, reports, websites, videos, etc. lets participants find out more about selected themes related to the course topic. Whenever available, materials are provided in English – otherwise in German. The Project Profiles relating to the THEMATIC CITY VIDEO (see above), as well as a few other key documents, are included in full.