Duisburg was once a booming industrial town in the German industrial heartland but a series of economic shocks in the 80s, unemployment and the flight of the young talent had seen the town go through several decades of decay. That was until recently when a new urban renewal program has given the town a fresh lease of life. The project has involved an inner harbour development by Forster and Partners to connect the city to the old waterfront. The new harbour redevelopment has seen the company put up a penthouse and apartment buildings. The company has also created public spaces and rebuilt the neighbourhoods so as to encourage the footloose residents to stay longer and build their lives in Duisburg. This will also encourage new businesses to come up in Duisburg and help in the urban renewal of the city.
The project is not only employing creative urban planning and development but also beautiful architecture to keep the residents in. And the results are already trickling in. New businesses are coming up in Duisburg including a new restaurant that was recently launched in the redeveloped area. There is a local market, several events being launched in the city, and lots of socials attracting residents of all age groups. The neighbourhood currently has a total of 13 restaurants. From the 80s low when Duisburg inland harbour supported some 200 jobs, the town currently supports up to 4000 jobs thanks to the urban renewal program.
How the Ruhr was Reclaimed
The renewal project in Duisburg and other post industrial towns in the Westpalia were initiated by the Land of Westphalia. The authorities established the International Builders Exhibition (IBA), a think tank composed of planners, architects, government representatives and created new institutions,forums, and seminars to explore new ways of reviving Ruhrgebiet’s old industrial towns. These forums and exhibitions generated lots of ideas many of which have been applied in towns like Duisburg with considerable success. The IBA ideas have been used to create several mixed-use communities in the former Ruhrgebiet and have been a core part of the urban regeneration program in these cities and towns.
Apart from creating neighborhoods and communities, IBA has also led to the creation of several cultural resources such as museums, events and performance centres and new office spaces which are attracting businesses to these post industrial towns. IBA has managed to preserve the identity of the Ruhrgebiet while recreating it to meet the demands of a modern city. Between 30-40% of the old buildings have been preserved, refurbished and adapted to modern living and office spaces. Back to Duisburg, the redevelopment will see 700 new apartments built in the town. The key landmark of Duisburg will be the remarkably designed Eurogate building that will be constructed in the coming years. The public investment in the project has also seen an injection of a great deal of private capital. Duisburg shows how much can be achieved with a little initiative.