The basic approach of the project

Under conditions such as these, a new approach was needed. Additionally, it was already clear that demographic changes would sooner or later lead to the availability of a substantial number of previously built areas throughout Germany. For this reason as well, model strategies needed to be developed. The most important goals associated with a new approach can be classified as follows:

• Consider the increasingly difficult financial situation of the community.

– Cost-effectively transform areas in the city that no longer have an economic use into usable green spaces of different types that require very little upkeep.

• Consider alternative methods to avoid the blandness and loss of quality

that is involved in the “normal” planning process when transforming an

abandoned area into a park.

– Offer solutions, usually absent in normal conversion approaches, that consider the specific aesthetics, the species and biotope conservation potential and the dynamic development potential of nature in aban­doned areas.

– Protect the authenticity of the abandoned areas during redesign; pre­serve the natural potential that is always an expression of the indus­trial history of a site.

– Understand industrial nature as a counterpart of industrial culture.

• Make the areas available to the public.

– Find intelligent solutions to the problem of liability which forces the owners of properties, especially communities, to eliminate even the slightest risk and thereby brings about a homogenization.

– Set up social controls.

– Make contact with nature possible in the city by creating or conserv­ing natural areas that are appropriately accessible.

• Augment forests in forest-poor urban areas such as the Ruhr.

The approach, therefore, was not to elaborately redesign the abandoned areas based on conventional planning, but rather, in principle, to allow the natural development, succession to have free rein. The starting point was the realization that all stages of succession up to and including the mature forest feature ecologically interesting and aesthetically appealing elements (Dettmar 1999, 2004).

What was being sought was something best described as “nurtured de­velopment”. The responsibility for a site would no longer be divided be­tween planning and realization phases, but rather would be anchored in one person. This person would be present as much as possible at the site and thereby secure a certain social control.