After a very comfortable train ride, the group arrived in Essen on June 18th. We settled in to our new wg, or wohngemeinschaft in the Unperfekthaus, and enjoyed a nice meal.
This is not my first experience in Essen and the Ruhrgebiet, as I visited for a week with my Spring 2019 Studio class in March. The area itself is very interesting, as it is the largest urban area in Germany and the third-largest in Europe. It also once was home to the largest industrial area in Germany due to the coal and steel boom. Nowadays, you can walk around this area and experience these industrial areas yourself, either through parks, museums, tours, and art.
It is extremely important for our major to learn about how to design with industrial and contaminated areas in mind and how to deal with a growing population amidst declining land.
We have also ventured a bit outside of the Ruhr area, exploring Dusseldorf. This is a beautiful city with pockets of historical buildings and of course, the beautiful Rhein River.
Some highlights from the first week include: exploring Dusseldorf castles, gardens, and old towns, Nordstern Park in Gelsenkirchen featuring the Emscher River, taking a tour of Zollverein, a UNESCO world heritage site and old coal mine turned into a museum and park, going down into the Emschergenossenschaft’s new pumping station in Oberhausen, visiting the Tetrahedron in Bottrop, and visiting our new project site for the upcoming studio charette in Bochum.
Covering a large amount of area in a week, I feel like I got a sense of how diverse the region is within such a small area. I am enjoying learning more and more about the Emscher River and the Ruhrgebiet, and how to design specifically for this unique area, which is very similar to many areas in America. These observations will be very useful for landscape architects in New Jersey!