M2.2: Transformation von Kraftwerksstandorten

  RWE power station Copyright: © städtebau  

Winter Semester 2021/22

Duration: 2 semester


Revitalize Cultural Heritage

A new local identity based on the cultural heritage of previous eras.

In Northern Europe, industrialisation from the middle of the 19th century brought great changes in a short period of time. Above all, the switch to mechanised production, triggered by technical progress, caused the economy to flourish. This resulted in significant population growth. Many towns and cities developed explosively. In the course of industrialisation, fossil fuels became necessary. In Germany and the Netherlands, coal mining offered the possibility to provide the needed resource of energy. The industrial architecture that houses the function of the mining operations has a special geometric scale of its own. The dimensions of the buildings use the scale of machines rather than that of humans as a reference for their formal language and functionality: Even today, the power plants built in the 20th century form high points in the homogeneous landscape of the Rhineland, apart from the open-cast mining holes.

While the phase-out of lignite mining in the Rhineland is dated for 2038, and many other regions in Germany are still in the process of initiating structural change, in the Netherlands the energy turnaround already took place 50 years ago. Energy needs were no longer met by coal production, but by gas production. The coal mines were closed. This had very great economic consequences for the region in the south of the Netherlands, which was characterised by coal mining and where the population had grown explosively precisely because of mining. Attempts were made to develop a new local economy. All mining-related buildings and associated infrastructure were cleared. At the same time, however, the collective memory of this era was almost wiped out:

It was recognised too late that these buildings formed a crucial part of the cultural heritage of the region. In addition to a cultural heritage status in the sense of a culture of remembrance, with the help of an after-use concept they could have served as a location for a new branch of industry and thus as a foundation for the future of the region.

Lusatia, located in eastern Germany, is considered a reference region for a successful coal phase-out and a structural change that has already been initiated:

Based on a common mission statement, model measures and an ambitious regional development strategy have been developed. The many open-cast mining pits here have been partly filled with rainwater, which over the years will result in the development of a new lake landscape that is attractive to tourists and brings new economic opportunities:
Both the border location of Lusatia with its local, shared, cross-border history of mining and the presence of existing artefacts in the form of the energy power plants make it possible to appeal to a new target group of tourists. This target group does not correspond to consumer tourism, but to cosmopolitan cultural tourism. Here, the legacy of the coal industry has been successfully used as a backdrop for a new future without erasing the past.

Due to the European Climate Agreement 2020, the coal phase-out will be enforced nationwide in Germany. For the inhabitants of the Rhenish mining area, this means preparing a structural change until the complete coal phase-out in 2038. While the Future Agency in the Rhenish Mining District sets out to create a new spatial image for the region, it is important to look at the region in individual fragments, such as the core area of the post-industrial landscapes of the three opencast mining holes or individual sites such as landmarks. The task of developing conversion concepts for energy power plants (Frimmersdorf, Neurath, Niederaußem, Weisweiler, Knapsack), which could become stepping stones in the overall vision, could be decisive here.

Dates and further information on RWTHonline.


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