by Sebastian Schlecht and Chih-Wei G.V. Chang, ASLA
The Landscape Laboratory of Ruhr Metropolis and the First Biennale of Urban Landscape
Ruhr Region: A Continuous Transformation
For most landscape architects in the US, the Ruhr region of Germany is best known for its successful post-industrial renovation projects, such as Duisburg North Landscape Park or IBA Emscher Park. But its story of transformation did not stop there. Being one of the biggest metropolitan areas in Europe, the Ruhr region is still facing complications and challenges from its past and present. Its sprawl and polycentric urban form make energy, mobility, and infrastructure upgrades less straightforward. With the unthinkable re-opening of coal power plants due to the European energy crisis, the region is once again at the center of focus: What will Ruhr do in an uncertain future?
It is fair to say that its industrial past brings not only challenges, but also unique niches and capacities for the structural transformation of its landscape. With more land area in between the network of smaller post-industrial cities, special emphasis is placed on the adaptation to climate change effects, ecological restoration, and function as a key to economic and social progress. This of course includes the transformation of industrial heritage, the necessary livability of neighborhoods, and integrated urban landscape revitalization. The region is calling for new ideas, and exploring the opportunities and new qualities of its possible futures.