Re-using abandoned land

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Looks like a set from a steampunk movie!

The Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord is virtually unknown outside of Germany, so we were happy to stumble upon a great post about this park, built on a bygone coal and steel production plant in the north of Duisburg. In 1985, the steel industry abandoned the area and left its ponderous structures to decay and crumble. In 1991, Peter Latz of Latz + Partner initiated a project to rehabilitate this lost zone with an objective to heal and resuscitate the land. Latz’s idea of the land’s ecological recovery, however, involved keeping as much of the existing sites intact. The result is a park that retains a strong industrial legacy and a strikingly pre-19th century agricultural heritage.

It’s this balancing of elements and integration of history that make Landschaftspark so remarkable. There are important precursors: Latz’s preceding “Harbour Island,” and Richard Haag’s “Gas Works Park” in Seattle.

These are successful instances of the ways in which abandoned sites can be treated, and they are magnificent not only because they show how defunct, inoperable land can transform into breathing, multi-functional parks, but also because they connect memory into the design strategy. By preserving these gargantuan industrial monuments, the viewer is given an experience of past and present–first a connection to the agricultural and industrial antiquity from which the park has sprung, and second the process of framing and making sense of the sites which the viewer encounters. Themes of temporality and transience attend the park as the steel continues to degrade throughout the area, while nature quietly reclaims pockets of the land.

It’s dynamic and relevant–a vital demonstration of function, of culture, play, history, and place.

More about this amazing place here.

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