Duisburg Sud – Tiger & Turtle
Duisburg is one of the largest cities in the Ruhr Region. Its industrial past is especially prominent due to its location along the Rhine River and the large industrial port is still used today. The Tiger & Turtle installation, located across from the Befesa Zinc Factory along the Rhine River, illuminates current industrial activity in the city from the vantage point of the region’s former industrial activity. However, unlike most of the haldes in the Ruhrgebiet, the Tiger & Turtle actually stands on the toxic remains of a zinc smelter’s landfill, rather than waste from coal mines. After the site was capped and sealed, the 2 million Euro galvanized steel rollarcoaster-esque artpeice was built on top, with 880 LED lights.
And two sketches I made of it.
Where the Ruhr meets the Rhien, the RheinOrange draws the eye towards the industrial port of Duisburg. The slab is made of steel.
Duisburg Nord – Landshaftpark
I saw the mouth of the Emscher in Dinslaken while traveling along the Rhine, but originally the Emscher met the Rhine at Duisburg Nord. The Alt Emscher, which is no longer connected to the main body of the Emscher, was one of the first revitilized water segments through IBA Emscherpark. Running through the Landschaftpark Duisburg Nord, the former coal and steel plant is used as a public park and event space that was created around and within the remains of the intact factory. The design preserves as much of the structure as possible and makes use of phytoremediation techniques and capped gardens in some of the most polluted areas. Rock climbing is also common, and stairwell access is permitted in certain areas – great for a fear of heights.
Oberhausen Kaiser Garden
The Kaiser Garden refers to Wilhelm I, who is actually mentioned in a few public spaces throughout the region. Kaiser Wilhelm I was a King of Prussia, as well as the first German Emperor (Germany did not become a nation until 1871, right before the peak of its industrial activity). The green areas now bearing Wilhelm’s name usually take the form of Volksparks or ‘People’s Parks’. The KaiserGarten in Oberhausen is one such place, located right next to the Schloss Oberhausen (shown from google images below – admittedly the castle is much less impressive in person so I didn’t end up with any good pictures of it because I saw it more as an afterthought once I was finished with the garden, but it looks pretty good here). However, the city of Oberhausen actually draws its name from the mansion, which was built in 1846 (the mansion first gave name to Oberhausens central railway station which later gave name to the city).
A former hunting grounds, the land now called the KaiserGarten was turned into a public park in 1898 on the celebration of the Kaiser Wilhelm’s 100th birthday. It is the oldest public park in the Oberhausen district, and donated to the residents of the newly industrialized city as a place to relax and stay in nature. Both the Emscher river and the RheinHerne Kanal through the park. The EmscherKunst 2010 piece “A Slinky Springs to Fame” (its a bridge) can also be found here crossing the RheinHerne Kanal. The wildlife of the park was retained and is now the largest free zoo in the Ruhrgebiet.
Oberhausen is sometimes called a ‘test-tube town’, because it developed ‘along American Lines’ (not quite sure what this means but it was on the sign outside the Gasometer) in the midst of railways in order to meet the needs of heavy industry. Its story is reminiscent of New Jersey industrial cities such as Patterson, which was planned specifically with industrial intent in mind. Oberhausen-Osterfeld was home to the first iron mill in the Ruhrgebiet, since 1758, and the oldest worker’s settlement was also built in Oberhausen (the Eisenheim) in 1844. The Oberhausen gasometer was built in 1929 to store gas for the city’s ironworks and thus became a feature of the city as a center of development and now a landmark. The Gasometer now holds a museum inside of it, dedicated to…the romantic sublime.
I’m actually pretty mad at myself I completely forgot to snap more pictures of the museum itself; I only took pictures of the famous Casper David Friedrich painting and four photographs/paintings that I really liked the colors of, but nothing to illustrate the main message of the museum’s collection and I completely blanked on getting a picture of the massive panorama of Oberhausen during the peak of industrial activity. But I’ll put a picture of just a random ‘oberhausen during the peak of industrial activity’ image from Google:
The full panorama was really quite beautiful, but whatever this one will do. Much of the museums collection of images was comprised of landscape paintings and photographs, as well as pictures of plants, wildlife, and selections about Alexander Humboldt’s work with documenting plant species in distant lands and snow-capped mountains. But the message was made clear through one of the large hanging signs attached to the criss-crossed metal beams of the gasometer. While expansive depictions of grand mountain ranges and misty atmospheres are naturally considered beautiful by many today, manifestations of the earth’s power such as Germany’s Alps were once considered grotesque. Prior to industrialization, man’s enemy was often the forces of nature, which made sense because without our technology and machines we are really quite vulnerable and natural disasters such as floods or cold weather could easily kill us and our civilizations. And not many people went mountain climbing for fun (puts quite the twist now on Duisburg Nord’s climbable industrial ruins).
But around 200 years ago, the face of beauty and art began to shift once we started to view the nature as vulnerable…vulnerable to us. You know what they say, you only love your enemy when you finally know how to defeat him…or something like that…google says its an orson scott quote. What was once a symbol of danger became a symbol of the sublime, pleasure in the face of terror from unspeakable forces, and then a symbol of something pure and ‘good’. The ideals of the sublime and the beautiful are now often used as impetus for landscape protection in the form of national parks. On the bottom floor of the exhibition, there is a large panorama of a yellowed and multi-paneled landscape view of Oberhausen during the height of industrial activity. As many of these facilities go out of use and are now converted into parks and gardens, one can’t help but fill in the blanks…
So are industrial landscapes, the polluted and horrid mess that they are, the new sublime in the modern day? And could they ever be viewed as natural and pure (after a transition to clean energy of course)?
The gasometer oberhausen certaintly had some thoughts.
The Haus Ripshorst is a historic estate in Oberhausen (the brick building), once a knight’s manor, but now serves as an information center for the Emscher Landscape Park. A woodland garden provides information on colonizing plant species, and their formative role in the forest at large. The plantings are arranged so that you walk through a timeline of sorts of forest species, but parts of the landscape were fenced off so I think I only saw the beginnings of it. In the distance, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice can be seen behind the meadows. The dancing power pole stands alone, apart from the other pylons, drawing it’s name from the German writer Goethe’s famous poem. Goethe’s Italian journey in which he passed by the Alps comes to mind here. As mentioned in the Gasometer Oberhausen Museum, artists and writers had previously thought the Alps a grotesque obstacle impeding the journey to witness the beautiful Italian ruins. But Goethe was inspired by the Alps, perhaps as we can be inspired by the normally invisible and unsightly infrastructure of our electrical grid?
Bottrop Halde Haniel
Bottrop Berne Park
Formerly a sewage treatment plant, the space has now been converted into a park (Bottrop now has another much larger and more modern sewage treatment plant). Two circular clarifiers have been updated in two different ways; one remains filled with water and retains its role as a water retention basin that allows sediment to sink to the bottom of the tank, and the other has been filled with soil converted into a garden – Piet Oudolf style. Charming tubes, sewer pipe segments, are available for overnight stay in the park. They can be booked at dasparkhotel.net, fit with a: bed, a tiny lamp, and electrical outlet, and a window.