Dr. Julia Sattler of TU Dortmund University in Dortmund, Germany, recently visited The University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning to discuss her research on present-day urban transformations in Germany’s Rurh Valley. Dr. Sattler has worked on multiple urban redevelopment projects in the Ruhr and completed a PhD thesis in American Studies at Dortmund University. She is currently conducting postdoctoral work at the University Alliance Ruhr on the narrative dimensions of the urban transformation process in Detroit, Michigan and in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.
The Rurh region consists of Germany’s largest urban agglomeration and is facing modern challenges associated with post-industrial change. An issue of great importance in the region has been the conversion of hundreds of brownfields to greenspace, recreational lands, or contemporary manufacturing facilities. Dr. Sattler presented several striking images of Emscher Landscape Park, one of the region’s most impressive examples of brownfield conversion.
In addition to the region’s land use transformations, Dr. Sattler spoke of the Ruhr’s cultural evolution and of its perception as a new center for business and the arts within Germany and within Western Europe. While certain new wave economic development tactics such as catering to the creative class yielded minimal returns, the region was able to capitalize on some momentum from Essen’s 2010 status as a European Capital of Culture. The presentation closed with a fascinating series of photos and interviews encapsulating the views of the Ruhr’s longtime residents.