Our research network brings partners from research and practice together and aims to:
Our network is open to new members and related topics. If you are interested in participating, please contact us!
Structural Change/ Decline
Industrial Landscape and Identity
Population Growth/ Decline
Economy and Social Perspectives
Energy, Mobility and Sustainable Development
Formality/ Informality (Planning Culture)
Monocentric/ Polycentric Structure
Communication of planning contents/ partizipation
On October 16th and 17th 2014 our first International Expert Workshop on “Polycentric City Regions in Transformation – The Ruhr Agglomeration in International Perspective“ took place at TU Dortmund.
National and international experts from six regions discussed the common challenges, planning instru- ments, strategies, and their experiences on how to deal with the development in these complex spatial structures.
The following case studies were involved:
It was the workshop target to further pursue the „Urban Research Network“ on concepts for comparative po- lycentric region research, to elaborate research cooperation and to prepare the contents for our conference on Juni 11th-13th 2015 in Essen, Germany.
In two days six case studies were presented with a focus on the challenges and planning topics, the ins- truments, strategies and formats and the processes of regional planning and cooperation in the specific case study. The experts discussed how regional planning, participation and communication are organized and which institutions and actors are involved. In the discussions similarities and differences between the regions were elaborated and approaches to future topics of the network identified. The participants favor a practical approach for the further exchange on central topics, and emphasized the importance of instituti- onal learning, innovative planning approaches, participation, and legitimation of planning.
Click here for the documentation
The Agglomeration Ruhr has a polycentric structure without a clear dominant centre. Consisting of numerous cities of different sizes, the Agglomeration Ruhr has no formal administrative unit. As a result there are many interior borders between the different cities. Also typical of the Agglomeration Ruhr is the great number of internal fringes which separate settlement areas. These areas include industrially used areas, areas for storage and logistics, paths of energy supply or one of the regional green belts crossing the region. The building and settlement structure of the Agglomeration Ruhr is the result of a historical process. In only about 100 years an agricultural region turned into a highly productive industrial landscape. A dense network of roads connects smaller and larger cities, each with its own identity. Therefore it was always difficult to regard the region as one, with consistent interests. The interests of the numerous large, medium and small cities are too diverse. The whole region is a mosaic of different areas that fulfill specific functions and represent their own individual interests. Figures illustrate that local governmental structures remain of great importance in the Agglomeration Ruhr. The Area has two Landscape Associations, 20 institutions for economic development, 24 traffic enterprises and 6 chambers. Regardless several achievements in structural change during the last decades, the Agglomeration Ruhr is facing tasks of managing future development towards a socially balanced and economically strong region. The current 'Regional Discourse' initiated by the Ruhr Regional Planning Association (RVR) aims at the establishment of a legally binding regional plan until 2020. Therefore all 53 municipalities participate in the discursive creation of the Ruhr Planning Association Assembly and the Ruhr Parliament as the main political powers of the region, and respecting local and regional governance structures. Contentually, it is touching the topics of regional spatial development, especially settlement area, landscape or traffic management, connecting it to further issues such as social and economic cohesion and development of strategic fields of innovation.
Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region
The Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region is one of eleven metropolitan regions in Germany and the second largest agglomeration after the Rhein-Ruhr metropolitan region. It consists of the capital city Berlin and the surrounding area of Brandenburg. Unlike many metropolitan regions, which are polycentric and based on morphological measures, Berlin/Brandenburg region is to a large extent centric. Nevertheless, even under the dominance of Berlin, it follows functional polycentricity and interdependence between cities of the region. Like the most cores of metropolitan regions in Germany, Berlin witnesses population growth and therefore facing the challenges of meeting the demands of new housing projects and social-and-physical infrastructure. Berlin city as an autonomous federal state consists of central city government and city wards. Despite its population growth, the region is facing challenges of maintaining social cohesion and global economic position. In the current years, real investment boom and population growth has resulted into Gentrification, increasing rents and real state costs and Social segregation and peripheralization of poor people. A general task becomes the governance issue: how to participate citizens in strategic plans needed to steer the fast inner urban redevelopment induced by the real estate boom as well as the task to re-establish its federal capital function.
Greater Zurich area
Zurich metropolitan Area is the largest of three metropolitan areas in Switzerland and one of Europe’s strongest economic centers. It includes the canton of Zurich and a six neighboring regions. The metropolitan region of Zurich follows a morphological and functional polycentric pattern and interconnections including nodes and corridors of development between the regions’ many municipalities. managing spatial development of the booming region within the limited space is one of the main planning challenges in Zurich metropolitan region. It calls for alternative governance polices that incorporate the local, regional and metropolitan dimensions.
Nord Pas de Calais
A cross-border metropolitan region located at the crossroads of key infrastructures for transit of goods, and so linking the major metropolitan areas in North-West Europe (Paris, London, Randstad Holland, the Rhine-Ruhr basin in Germany). Nord Pas de Calais is the fourth most populous region of France nine metropolitan regions. Just like the Ruhr region, Nord-Pas-de-Calais contributed substantially to the mining, steel and textile industrial development until the middle of the 20th century, with many of its coalfields now classified as a UNESCO world heritage sites. Nord-Pas de Calais currently still suffers the consequences of the decline of its industrial history, with net outmigration, a high unemployment rate and enduring social difficulties. The last two decades have witnessed major planning attempts of industrial restructuring and attraction of newer industries based on substantial public investment incentives.
Detroit metropolitan area - Metro Detroit
The greater Detroit metropolitan region is located in the southeast Michigan and has one of the largest spatial footprints for cities of comparable inhabitants' numbers. In contrast to the classic perpendicular “grid pattern”, the road system that defined Detroit was the alternative “hub-and-spoke” radial net¬work. The region is characterized by significant patterns of spatial economic and social division. While the Detroit city area faces serious economic challenges caused by the car-production based industrial economy decline resulting into public budget difficulties, massive enduring housing vacancies due to inhabitant outflux during the 1960ies and 1970ies and connected societal issues, the wider metro area counts to wealthiest regions in the US. Currently, selective revital¬ization in the central area of Detroit city has produced “bubble urbanism,” reinforcing the already highly uneven urban land¬scape. Innovative planning strategies and long-term planning process are at the head of the aims of the regional planning of Detroit metropolitan area. Strong competition between cities of the region as well as relatively weak regional governmental structures count to the current challenges of endeavor to reestablish evenly the regional stability.
Kansai Metropolitan Area
The Kansai region is the second largest metropolitan region in Japan after the Tokyo metropolitan area. Kansai has long been the political, economical and cultural center of western Japan and the East Asian region until the capital was moved to Tokyo in 1868 and became gradually the concentrated global center. Similarly to the Ruhr region for Germany, Kansai contributed to the prosperity of the modern Japanese industrial state. Beginning with textile production, its central area at the Osaka bay became an industrial centre of the country in the 19th century, followed by steel and chemical production during the first half and the electric machinery industry during the second half of the 20th century. Despite it continued to lose its growth position on Tokyo, the Kansai region remains under the 20 largest regional economies worldwide. Today`s challenge is the stabilization of regional economy through high-tech innovation and the demographic change. The high competition between the regions’ cities and the reaction to the slowing growth leads into individual centralization strategies, leaving peripheral parts of the regional metropolitan area with slower development pace. A task is thus an establishment of regional governmental structures of a regional management for coordination of strategic development tasks.
The understanding and reappraisal of the historical as well as the spatial development of the Ruhr region can offer important strategic clues for its transformation process. In comparison to most other German metropolitan areas, the Ruhr agglomeration is a special case: it is a polycentrically organized urban region without a single dominant core, with a diversity of local and regional institutions. At the same time, it is characterized by multifaceted structural breaks and juxtapositions in almost all key areas – especially in its spatial, economic and social development. For decades, the regional transformation and renewal has been carried out by the most diverse actors. Although comprehensive changes have taken place, the transformation process is continuing. This process is underscored by a variety of planning activities.
With the new start of its regional plan and a dialog-oriented and integrated development strategy, the Ruhr region is predestined to further develop the discourse on polycentric postindustrial urban regions. With the Internationale Bauausstellung (international architectural exhibition) Emscher Park (1989-1999), the European Capital of Culture RUHR.2010 and many other initiatives, the region has proven that it can collectively activate innovative urban and regional planning formats. In order to achieve a lasting effect, the conference aims for an unbiased retrospective of the approaches and formats that have been used to date.
The international congress, which addresses the processes and strategies of the revitalization of polycentric urban regions, has the following goals:
An international comparative perspective will help embed the process of change in the Ruhr region into a broader context while at the same time classifying its objective characteristics. The congress will take place from the 11th to the 13th of June 2015 at Zeche Zollverein in Essen.
This panel aims at reflecting on the past and exploring the current state of older industrial regions from an international, comparative perspective. The transformation of these regions reveals a highly diversified picture, with some cases offering obvious narratives of success, while others are blocked for various reasons. However, nothing changes radically in the short term. Hence, we wish to better understand the longer-term dynamics and trajectories of regional change (measured, for instance, in terms of economic recovery, employment, urban redevelopment, knowledge generation) by presenting cases of transformation that stretch over a timespan of two to three decades.
In so doing, the panel does not wish to uncover what worked, what did not and who was responsible for this. Instead of searching for the apparently objective ‘truth’ within and behind regional transformation, the panel is particularly concerned with the ways in which the regional problem was framed, contextualised and subjected to strategic action and day-to-day practices. This sort of institutional constellation will then be confronted with the more material, persistent and structural properties of regions (the role of property, political fragmentation, shadow coalitions, urban perforation, infrastructure) that may still be at work and which are likely to block change, create inertia and undermine open discourse.
We invite contributors to propose any cases of regions in transition that fit here. We are also interested in learning about cases that were as extensively studied and subjected to political therapy as the Ruhr region without providing the desired success. The interesting questions in this case are how long the present lasts for and whether the newer (rather than the older) industrialised regions alone turn out to be the winners.
Prof. Dr. Markus Hesse (University of Luxembourg)
Prof. Dr. Stefan Siedentop (ILS – Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development)
In today’s urban and regional planning, there are challenges which carry weight at a national or global scale and at the same time can only be solved and imparted to the citizen at a local scale. These include topics such as the development of settlements and the landscape, sustainable mobility and the multi-coded use of infrastructure, especially in post-industrial regions such as the Ruhr valley. Due to the structural change that has been taking place for decades, the area is still undergoing a transformation process. The connection
between the regional level of spatial planning and the specific local urban design projects therefore play a significant role in forming and strengthening a local and regional identity. The panel deals with two-scale urbanism. On the one hand, this means that the strategic guidelines of the region are developed and respected. On the other hand, specific projects that are implemented locally within the framework of the regional guidelines are considered. The focus of the panel should be on the implementation of these projects. Preferably, papers submitted for this panel should outline the connection between these two levels of planning by referring
to a project that can either be in the planning stages or already have been implemented. Thus, one strategic and one spatial level of consideration always exist. In order to outline the connection between the two levels, a structured description of the instruments, strategies and formats existing in the region is of great significance.
Today, polycentricity seems to be the dominant spatial pattern in many metropolitan regions. However, polycentricity is a diverse concept, and we usually distinguish between at least two different forms. Intra-urban polycentric regions used to be dominated by one large city, but strong processes of suburbanisation and metropolitanisation resulted in a more dispersed settlement structure with growing secondary cities. The metropolitan areas of Frankfurt/Rhine-Main and greater Milan are cases in point. Inter-urban polycentric regions such as the Ruhr valley never had a dominant core city, but rather consist of several larger cities that are more or less equal in size. Compared to intra-urban (or formerly monocentric)
metropolitan regions, such regions are at a disadvantage, because the regions and the cities therein lack visibility and a clear profile. However, certain advantages may also exist. The absence of a large core city results in a more balanced settlement structure, with ampleor the Randstad are far from given. Therefore, can polycentric metropolitan regions balance the ambivalence of cooperation and competition in order to create a collaborative advantage? In some polycentric metropolitan areas, several medium-sized cities successfully follow a cooperative strategy in order to balance this disadvantage and join forces. We invite theoretical as well as empirical papers that address the following questions:
> Which kind of governance regimes can we observe in polycentric regions?
> What are the factors for success, and what are the obstacles?
> Can we point to positive examples of functional differentiation or synergetic regional development?
> Which formats and instruments are used in planning and governance?
> What are the implications for the practice of regional planning as well as for regional planning institutions?
This panel discusses the influence of industrial heritage on the construction of regional identities in deindustrialising regions and aims defining the concept of “industrial cultural landscapes”. Its focus is on coal-producing and/or steel-producing regions. The following questions will be discussed within this interdisciplinary framework: what was the motivation and intention behind the production of industrial heritage sites? Who/what were the historical agents in
the making of industrial heritage? How has industrial heritage affected the public representation of the region? How do locals perceive and interact with industrial heritage, and how does it affect their personal identity? How has industrial heritage changed the shape and meaning of urban spaces over time? Can industrial heritage prolong working class identity in the course of deindustrialisation? How does the (post-)industrial representation of the region compete with alternative images in the regional identity repertoire? Which
regional specifics – socioeconomic, political, cultural and historical – support or work against industrial heritage? Which features are essential in defining a region as an “industrial cultural landscape”? How have these landscapes been built and preserved? The comparative perspective on regions around the world will raise these as well as new questions in the fields of social and historical sciences.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Berger (Ruhr University Bochum)
Urban landscapes in polycentric agglomerations, such as the Ruhr region or the Rhein-Main region, are characterised by a patchwork of open spaces and settlement areas. These landscapes are multifunctional und multiproductive. A variety of different forms of agriculture or horticulture and forestry can be found in these spaces. Moreover, there exists a variety of urban greenspaces, such as traditional parks or private gardens as well as priority areas for ecological protection.
This green infrastructure is essential to ensure the quality of life and attractiveness of urban agglomerations. This includes climate protection, climate adaptation, rainwater treatment, renewable energies and recreation and healthcare. A greater share of open spaces and the linkage of these spaces with settlement areas in polycentric city regions provide significant advantages for
urban resilience. The sustainable development of these areas into urban cultural landscapes will be a task for the future. This task includes different forms of production and design, and can support the value production chains throughout the whole agglomeration.
Prof. Dr. Jörg Dettmar (TU Darmstadt University)
Polycentric city regions are going through transformation processes driven by a number of different cumulative factors. These factors all have in common that long-established economic and social structures are being replaced by new ones, in either an evolutionary or a revolutionary way. Sectors that have dominated for many decades are as much affected by this as is the structure of the population, which is influenced by demographic change or migration. In the Ruhr region, the unemployment rate and the number of welfare recipients is comparatively high. In terms of economy, the spatial structure of the Ruhr In the Ruhr region, the unemployment rate and the number of welfare recipients is comparatively high. In terms of economy, the spatial structure of the Ruhr
region is very diverse. Many large business parks exist and are typically located on the outskirts rather than in the city centres. These business parks reflect the traditional way of dealing with trade and industry in Germany and the Ruhr region. However, especially in this region, a number of detailed structures such as gap sites exist, which are of great importance to specific economic sectors. These sites are particularly appropriate for and favoured by creative sectors. The initiative Kreativ.Quartiere Ruhr therefore tries to find suitable sites for artists and creative minds. Socially speaking, the Ruhr region is a mosaic of smaller and larger city centres with their own identities. Apart from this, the lifestyles in the region are
very diverse. Due to the history of the region, the working class is highly developed, while the upper class – which is dominant in other German cities – is less developed.
This scenario results in challenges that can be met in different ways. This panel will investigate the ways in which different means of transformation are particularly successful and which aspects of this can be transferred to other contexts.
In terms of urban development, every polycentric region emerged differently from others and has another structure. Thus, polycentric regions are not sustainable per se. At first glance, it cannot be determined whether they are sustainable, energy-efficient or climate-friendly. Instead, it has to be discussed which polycentric regional structure requires which features in order to be sustainable, energy-efficient and climate-friendly. When the polycentrically structured Ruhr region developed during the 19th and 20th centuries, the present-day sustainability criteria were not in the foreground.
must be in place for a long period of time and must not be susceptible to short-lived trends. Polycentric structures demand regional polyvalent action – equal values for the whole region decelerate the processes of transformation in some sections and equalise existing advantages with severe disadvantages.
Prof. Dr. J. Alexander Schmidt (University of Duisburg-Essen)
Prof. Dr. Manfred Fischedick (Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy)
In recent decades urban redevelopment predominantly meant to transform those spaces left behind by the secondary sector: plants, harbors, workers estates and other old industrial developments. All of these spaces have been of large scale and in most cases they were claimed by just a small number of owners and other stakeholders. The transformation of these spaces required enormous efforts in planning, engineering and investment, and quit often such projects reached the status of national showcases: Alexanderplatz in Berlin, HafenCity in Hamburg, the Docklands in London or Kop van Zuid in Rotterdam.
Today we are witnessing a paradigm shift in urban redevelopment: While spaces of the secondary sector are already redeveloped or – if the growth of cities and real-estate markets has cooled down – no longer needed, more and more spaces of the tertiary sector are getting ripe for redevelopment: old office buildings, retail property or logistic facilities and so forth. In addition, our cities need to be adapted to the requirements of demographic, social and climate changes. As a consequence, singular, large-scale and large-investment projects will no longer be a solution. Instead, we have to consider urban
redevelopment as a multitude of interrelated, small-scale projects and interests that have to be orchestrated in order to meet the common goals urban development. The conference panel “Urban Redevelopment Beyond Big Plans” is dedicated to new strategies in urban redevelopment. International guests are invited to discuss examples and ideas for urban transformation, off the beat tracks of large-scale planning and investment.
Tim Rieniets (Stadtbaukultur NRW)
The path leads through Zollverein Shaft XII’s authentically preserved surface installations. Apart from the impressive ‘New Objective’ architecture, you discover the technology and work at the loveliest and formerly largest and most productive coal mine in the world. From the shaft hall, where the coal arrived, you follow the coal on its travels through the
screening plant, where the coal was pre-screened, to its preparation and loading is the scrubbing plant. At the same time you discover the traces of miners and get to know their ways of life and conditions of work. Outside the plant you find out interesting facts about Zollverein’s architecture, nature and its multifaceted process of transformation from mine to modern site of art.
Guided walk by: Kerstin Teichmann / Stiftung Zollverein
Capacity: 60 Persons
Start of the excursion: 10:00 a.m.
End of the excursion: 12:00 a.m.
Meeting Point: Ruhr.Visitorcenter (take a look at the site plan at Downloads)
The decline of the predominant mining and steel industries forced the cities of Europe’s third largest urban agglomeration to search for new perspectives. Anyhow the attempt to attract new clean industries required an appealing surrounding, a certain quality of life. Under its former monostructural hegemony always regarded as the Germany’s shady workbench, the region had no other choice than to perform a fundamental transformation.
The cities’ unsightly back yard turns into a representative front garden, improving a regional quality of life. Additionally the newly established green infrastructure helps the cities to develop resilience in view of the predicted effects of climatic change.
Guided Bustour by: Emschergenossenschaft
Capacity: 50 persons
Start of the excursion: 10:00 a.m.
End of the excursion: around 16:45 a.m.
Meeting Point: Fritz-Schupp-Allee (Bus Stop) (take a look at the site plan at Downloads)
The excursion „Emscher Landscape Park – Post industrial design for urban landscapes“ gives an overview to different examples of new urban parks and landscapes created in the last 25 years. It includes the transformation of former coal mining and steel sites like Lake Phoenix (Dortmund),
WestPark (Bochum), ERIN & Hoppenbruch (Herten), the Landscape Park Duisburg-North and finally the Rhine-Park in Duisburg. The single projects are important parts of the regional parksystem: Emscher Landscape Park.
Guided Bustour by: Regionalverband Ruhr
Capacity: 50 persons
Start of the excursion: 10:00 a.m.
End of the excursion: around 16:30 a.m.
Meeting Point: Fritz-Schupp-Allee (Bus Stop) (take a look at the site plan at Downloads)
Gelsenkirchener Straße 181