How temporary urbanism can transform struggling industrial cities
It is not an easy task to revitalize these Legacy Cities. But it is possible. Inspire by my research in Europe and the work of Die Urbanisten in Dortmund, Germany (my hometown), I identified several innovative redevelopments models that could be useful for post-industrial towns around the world.
These three movements are based on flexible, ephemeral solutions that can be applied to any city looking to revitalize faded industrial zones. They include tactical Urbanism, Sustainable Landscapes, and the tiny home movement.
Temporary and tactical urbanism
Plantage 9 is located in Bremen. Robin Chang
Bremen in Northern Germany has struggled for decades to adapt to 21st-century socioeconomic ideals.
It is now known for its tactics that are based on urbanism. Street Plans Collaboration officially coined this approach and encompasses all low-cost measures that are scalable, but can be implemented quickly.
The ZwischeZeitZentrale is a local organization that was set up as a middleman to help match projects with underutilized urban spaces.
One result was Plantage 9. This old textile factory has been transformed into a culture and innovation hub, with more than 30 independent, creative, and entrepreneurial temporary users. These include a food truck kitchen, a bike repair workshop, as well as studios and galleries for younger artists.
Some of these businesses only lasted less than two year. Some remained and in 2012, these users negotiated with the city a new lease agreement and management contract. Plantage 9 is now a community association that plays a role in the cultural life of the city.
The engagement of citizens was a major factor in the success of this temporary urbanism project. ZZZ played the role of a mediator between citizens and Bremen’s municipality. They worked with a cook and a bicycle mechanic as well as students, teachers and photographers to coordinate and conceptualise these tactical initiatives.
Plantage 9 style matchmaking has revitalized lifeless spaces by bringing in exciting projects. Bremen’s reputation as a dynamic city innovator, from a struggling post-industrial town, has also changed.
Sustainable landscapes (Zomerhofkwartier, Rotterdam)
Residents of Rotterdam in the Netherlands have also nurtured comprehensive urban revitalisation in a neglected neighbourhood. The result is Zomerhofkwartier (aka Zoho), the new face for a former industrial district near the city’s central train station.
Zoho was originally conceived as a temporary project in 2013 by a few community organisations. Many of these were later re-configured as ZOHOCITIZENS. Zoho includes permanent coworking spaces as well as studios for hosting events, classes, and green spaces.
In just a decade, the area has evolved into Rotterdam’s main makers’ district.
The site is an urban lab for adapting to and transitioning from ecological systems. The project has so far implemented water storage in public areas, green roofs and urban gardens as well as the reduction of hard surfaces.
The ultimate goal of micro-greening is to increase the ecological resilience of the entire district and its socioeconomic vitality through specific locations within the urban concrete fabric.
Tiny Houses in Berlin
Tiny House Movement has grown in popularity as a solution for affordable housing after the US housing crisis. The tiny homes, sometimes secondary or standalone, inspired a TV show in the US, ” Small House, Big Living“.
The tiny house movement has a stronghold in North America but is still growing on the European continent.
The typical context of tiny homes is residential. However, the Bauhaus Campus Berlin partnership between Tinyhouse University, Bauhaus Archive, and the Museum of Design, Berlin, is demonstrating that these units can be temporarily reconceived to provide social justice, education, and research in unused spaces.
The project, which was inspired by the housing challenges faced by new residents and refugees, established in 2017 a workshop and educational forum that allowed people to learn to build their own tiny homes.
Bauhaus Campus Berlin, which was recently featured in German Media along with other similar projects, includes 12 tiny houses on the front lawn and promotes tiny home building through design crash classes, panel discussions, as well as other cultural gatherings.