My final project for the RISD Interior Architecture Journalism course. Each student was tasked with picking a project of personal interest that falls within the theme of Crisis and Resilience, doing the proper research, and authoring a persuasive article about it. Graphically, the assignment included the actual layout, photo selection, and cover design.
My article discusses the manner in which the landscape architecture design of Peter Latz provided a framework for recovery in the wake of the Ruhr Valley's deindustrialization and resultant economic and environmental crisis.
Photograph acknowledgments are cited on the final spread.
Near the confluence of the Ruhr and Rhine Rivers in northwestern Germany lies Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord. Established at the former coal-processing and iron-producing site of the Thyssen Steelworks, the park has been instrumental in reversing the economic crisis that resulted when the effects of deindustrialization first began to devastate the region in the 1970s. By challenging the more conventional approach that would have buried and erased the Thyssen Steelworks’ contaminated soil, disturbed ecology, and obsolete infrastructure, the design of Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord instead embraced these existing conditions. The intentional commemoration of the industrial ruins combined with the use of highly sustainable remediation strategies has transformed the once-abandoned site into a popular destination. As such, Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord’s design approach illustrates the unique recreational and environmental benefits that may be achieved by applying landscape architecture’s inherent outdoor, ecological focus towards issues of adaptive reuse.
Once home to extensive coal-mining and steel production industries, the Ruhr District as a whole suffered as the factories and mines closed shop one by one and their legacy became one not just of economic turmoil but also of environmental ruin. The industrial infrastructure was left abandoned and the contaminants associated with the industrial processes were left negligently wherever they may lie—whether they be at ground level, beneath the soil, or in the water. To combat these negative effects and with the hope of instilling a renewed sense of vitality to the 115 square mile area, the North Rhine-Westphalia government along with local municipalities and a selection of private companies formed the International Building Exhibition Emscher Park (IBA) in 1989. Over the course of the following ten years, the IBA sponsored 100 projects of various scales through competitions and calls for proposals, each of which sought to improve the degraded economic and environmental conditions associated with former industrial land.(1) Landschaftspark Duisburg Nord is the largest and most well-known of these projects.
Designed by Peter Latz of Latz + Partner, the core of Landschaftpark Duisburg Nord’s design philosophy centers around a recognition of the importance of the site’s historic industrial function and a reliance on its relics to provide an alluring aesthetic contrast to the more traditional green landscape design elements. But these structures do not simply stand as silent sentinels of the past. They have themselves been reinvented through a new array of recreational programming that encourages active engagement with and participation in their continued existence. Complementing this extensive program of outdoors-activity oriented reuse are the highly sustainable ecological strategies that Latz employed to remediate the site of its extensive contamination. (2)