This image is from the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen, Germany. A former industrial site turned nature park and museum, it is a point along the Industrial Heritage Route that now characterizes the Ruhr Region of Germany (shown below).
This June, I will explore the Industrial Heritage Route from the Westpol lighthouse to the Ostpol (west and east landmarkers of the Ruhr Region) to examine the sites chosen for the trail and their significance on the nature and culture of the region. Of particular note to the area is the River Emscher, a formerly dead river that is now the heart of the Emscher Landscape Park at the center of the Ruhr Region. Through the process of industrialization, the Emscher River was converted into an open sewage canal because land subsidence from mining made underground sewers a health hazard. However, with the absence of industrial activity in the region today, many of the former industrial sites have been converted into public parks and the River Emscher has undergone a re-conversion into a biodiversity hotspot and landscape park. I will also be following the Emscher landscape park from its mouth at the River Rhine in Dinslaken to its spring at Holzwickede.
Id first become familiar with the Ruhr Region 2 summers ago on the Landscape Architecture study abroad studio in Germany trip, and later on a 3 month internship with the Emschergenossenschaft (water management board for the Emscher River) in Essen Germany. The picture above is a piece of ‘EmscherKunst’ or Emscher Art in Oberhausen called the Sorcerer’s Apprentice which is a dancing power pole. The pictures below show one of the first areas of the river to undergo re-conversion in the Duisburg-Nord Landschaftspark.
While I have seen a number of the sites along the Route of Heritage already, this summer I am looking to investigate the trail with the intention of using it as a case study for the creation of an industrial culture trail in New Jersey. This coming year I will be designing/indicating a bike and pedestrian accessible urban and suburban hiking trail that indicates cultural landmarks and their intertwinement with the nature of the region. During my time in Germany I would like to study potential methods of site selection, symbolism, and storytelling in the landscape.