As for most regions that have the been stage for the industrial boom during the 20th century, one question remained after the majority of industrial companies moved on or had to be shut down: what to do with the remains?
The reuse of huge industrial wastelands and abandoned factory buildings is a big challenge for city planners, since the properties often cannot simply be cleared for alternative usage due to pollution – and, obviously, a spoil heap with a height of 128 meters can hardly be ignored. So instead of rejecting the industrial heritage of the Ruhr area the representatives took a different approach. Places that once were the setting of hard work and a life that certainly wasn’t always as delightful and romantic as it might seem in history books should be given back to the population as local recreation areas and landmarks. A very outstanding effort to reach that aim can be found in the “Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord”. On the former location of the Thyssen ironwork in Duisburg-Meiderich a public park with a size of about 180 hectares was created that doesn’t only show its close association to the industrial heritage, but manages to also point out that the area was already populated since 80,000 BC and because of its humid environment and fertile soil has been agricultural land ever since. Amongst the plans for a design of the park in 1991 the proposition made by Latz + Partner stood out, because it was designed to handle the status quo rather than trying to undo it. By now the “Landschaftspark” has become a unique example for a very delicate balance of a man-made landscape and re-entering nature. Connected by gardens, terraces, landmarks and signs the visitor is able to experience the different stages of that progress – from the first appearance of fragile weeds to the development of dense scrub. The slow healing process is proceeding under the surveillance of scientists and gardeners from the biological station of the western Ruhr area. But this focus on nature didn’t mean that the architectural elements were simply left to decay. The old gasometer now serves as Europe’s biggest artificial diving center, the storage bunkers and casting house have been turned into an alpine climbing garden and a high rope course. Besides those spots for sportive activities, some of the buildings have been restructured and are used as multifunctional event locations. During cultural events like the “ExtraSchicht” the “Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord” is one of the main stages for theater performances, concerts or the annual summer-cinema. Since the Landscape Park is open throughout the year and with no time limitations and the entry to the park site is free, you are always welcome to enjoy the atmosphere of this adventure playground for all ages and interests. By night the park is illuminated by light installations created by Jonathan Park that start at dusk and run until 1 am and as the editorial staff of this magazine can confirm, enjoying the view over the nocturnal park from one of the almost 70 viewing points might turn out to be a magical experience if you bring your romantic interest along.