Workshop report: What now? Wanted: A new narrative for the Ruhr region

workshop report: what now?
Wanted: A new narrative
for the Ruhr region

Admittedly, it was a cheeky attempt: In two days, wanted to collaboratively develop an overview of the narratives of the Ruhr region. The interim result: 60 people, working together partly simultaneously on a digital pinboard, were able to achieve a structured result. As part of the 1st Festival of Landscape, a map of the Ruhr area narratives was created (To the board on The map shows things that people are currently saying about the Ruhr region and – more importantly – suggestions about what should come to mind first when thinking about the Ruhr region in the future.

Very different people have worked on this map: Scientists & activists, marketeers & people from the administration, Ruhris & globetrotters. They have all tried to use simple language, because that is what distinguishes narratives: they are not complicated, but simple. Not cumbersome, but easy. Only in this way is it possible for narratives to spread quickly by being retold, and at some point everyone has the feeling that they have heard it a thousand times before. Even if narratives come across as quite mundane, their power should not be underestimated. These mini-stories create meaning, carry political messages, create identity or convey moral values. And so it is that the term narrative is on everyone’s lips. Whether municipalities, regions or countries, whether politics, science or marketing, everyone is vehemently calling for “new narratives”. Most of the time, this is based on the desire to get rid of old, unpleasant narratives about oneself and to shape new narratives.

But can this succeed at all? Can we really control from above (or below) what a large number of people intuitively believe to be true? Can we invent a story on the drawing board that is so catchy that it spreads by itself and gets stuck in people’s heads?

  • The participants of the festival also discussed (in writing and orally) this meta-level of narrative search. I would like to mention three controversial positions from the debate at this point without making any judgements:
  • A narrative is more than a snappy advertising slogan, and cannot be forced through even the most elaborate campaigns.
  • A narrative must be communicated professionally and have a solid intellectual foundation.
    The discussion about narratives is superfluous and misses the real problems of the Ruhr region.

Of course, the search for new (green) narratives for the Ruhr region is not yet finished for, it is just beginning! In the spirit of the open source idea, everyone is invited to use the map of narratives for themselves and to build on it. We are always happy to exchange ideas. Write to us at

Text: Matthias Krentzek, mxr storytelling, Team

How do you explain to a Bavarian what the Ruhr feels like? What should a Berliner think of when she hears Metropole Ruhr?

Workshop report: Urban Re Creation - new images for inner-city open spaces

workshop report: urban re creation -
new images for inner-city
open spaces

The inner cities of the Ruhr metropolises are still dominated by individual traffic. Here, car after car jostle each other, large traffic axes restrict the possibilities for new forms of mobility and stay. In the immediate vicinity, there are often pedestrian zones that are increasingly failing to live up to their former claim to be attractive shopping areas. Using concepts and best practice examples, Julian Altmann (Essen) and Dirk Becker (Dortmund) addressed this topic and, with the support of the BDLA NRW, discussed new approaches for sustainable inner-city spaces, moderated by Isabella de Medici (Planungsbüro DTP, BDLA).

A play on words was chosen as the title for the urban re-creation event: “re-creation” of inner cities and their qualities. The impulses took this up on three levels: The idea for planning, a concept and already realised projects.

After an impulse lecture by Thomas Dietrich (Chairman of the BDLA NRW) on the topic: “how green is that?” with retrospectives and outlooks on the green infrastructure of the Ruhr area, Andreas Meissner from the project team Emissionsfreie Innenstadt Dortmund (Emission-free inner city Dortmund) presented the project “Dortmunder Wallanlagen” – today a space almost exclusively characterised by the car, for which new images are being developed. This is done, among other things, through various plan cases that work with different traffic routing, including cycle lanes.

A vision of the future for Essen’s inner city was presented on the basis of the master’s thesis by landscape architect Julian Altmann. His thoughts on fresh air supply and rainwater management for the centre ended in a strong image of a significantly greener open space design with reduced road space – the Essen Schützenbahn, which today has eight lanes, could thus be transformed into a park.

“If we always start from the status quo, we go round in circles. Lanes produce traffic, traffic needs lanes. If we have four lanes and build a fifth, it too will be full of cars. Do we then build the sixth or does traffic as a whole need to be rethought?”

Stefan Bendiks presented good practice projects that have already been implemented on the topic of “urban re-creation”. His presentation focused on the implementation and enforcement of designed street spaces. The aspect of participation and involvement of local residents was also addressed. Bendiks formulated the aspects to be considered and taken into account in projects in the form of six tricks that can be read in his book “Traffic Space is Public Space”.

The discussion in the event, which was very well attended by over 60 participants, developed in a lively manner, starting from the core question: Is it not better to think about a spatial design project from the point of view of spatial qualities instead of traffic planning? It became clear that there is still a discrepancy between the planning reality in the offices, where traffic and corresponding counts are all too often taken as the starting point. On the other hand, there is a desire to rethink and reallocate open space so that in the future more people instead of cars will dominate our city centres. ist das Labor für die Landschaft der Metropole Ruhr – eine Biennale der urbanen Landschaft! in enorm magazine in

It’s been a week since we celebrated the first digital festival of the landscape together with great presenters, workshop leaders and over 280 participants. The feedback, also from the media, was huge. If you want to read more about the idea behind and what makes the landscape of the Ruhr so special, you can find an interview (in German) with Sebastian and Melanie about the festival and the special features of the Ruhr in the online edition of enorm: “This is the best place to experience transformation”. enorm sees itself as a business magazine for social change and reports on companies, movements and people.

Picture: Annette Bathen ist das Labor für die Landschaft der Metropole Ruhr – eine Biennale der urbanen Landschaft!

Workshop report: Kicking around for a good cause - Environmental protection combined with football

Workshop report:
Kicking around for a good cause.
Environmental protection combined
with football

A workshop on football at a festival of the landscape? Where, if not in the Ruhr region! Patrick Schulz from the initiative “bochumbolzt”, which combines the enormous integrative and communicative power of football with the effectiveness of active and local environmental protection, invited us. In practice, this combination currently means that, together with the Bochum Fan Project, football tournaments or sports festivals for pupils are organised on a nearby football pitch or directly on the school playground. During the breaks, bochumbolzt motivates the young football field heroes to clean the playing field and the immediate surroundings from carelessly discarded rubbish.

At the beginning of the first half, feelings and memories about the social space of the football pitch were brought up and possible multifunctional potentials discussed, such as the integration of edible elements around the pitch. Interim result: The football field in the neighbourhood conveys and strengthens the feeling of community – the football field as a spatial anchor, with the aim of creating a waste-free and edible neighbourhood.

“We are currently founding an umbrella association. In the near future, we would like to encourage and inspire people from the cities in the Ruhr region to develop the initial methods and content of bochumbolzt with our support in their city as well and to develop them further together.”

In the second half, the focus was on environmental protection and the global waste crisis, starting with the question of why we should also collect waste locally. This was about an exchange of ideas on a clean neighbourhood and early awareness raising on the production of waste. In the last third of the game, the participants were invited to leave the computer and go out into the fresh air for a short while to see if there is also rubbish on our own doorstep – and to pick it up directly if necessary.

The participants’ conclusion: “It’s very exciting how you combine environmental issues with football! Through football as the connecting language of the Ruhr region, a low-threshold approach to regional environmental protection was found in this workshop and a first, valuable impulse for focusing on the social space of the football pitch was developed.

Text: Patrick Schulz/Jan Bunse
Picture: Lucas Hagen ist das Labor für die Landschaft der Metropole Ruhr – eine Biennale der urbanen Landschaft!

Workshop report: Participation and responsibility for green stations

Workshop report:
Participation and responsibility
for green stations

Train stations are hubs in the urban fabric. For some, they are a transit point on the way to work or on a trip; for others, they are a meeting place and a place for (late) shopping for groceries, flowers, etc. At the same time, however, a central station in particular can also be seen as a gateway to the city and as a calling card, since its surroundings represent the first impression. This is precisely where the workshop “Participation and Responsibility for Green Stations” came in, looking for ways and methods to motivate residents and travelers alike to actively and sustainably help shape stations and their surroundings.

The vision of workshop leaders Anne Fabritius and Petra Jablonická: to transform train stations and their surroundings into green places with a quality of stay that many people like to visit and that are free from consumerism. As part of kitev (Kultur im Turm e.V.), they have been proving for a long time that this is possible in Oberhausen: The collective organizes concerts and open-air cinema evenings on the museum platform in the middle of Oberhausen’s main station, organizes exhibitions, among other things, in the shop windows of the station and in the museum. The collective organizes concerts and open cinema evenings at the museum station in the middle of Oberhausen’s main station. The collective organizes concerts and open cinema evenings at the museum station in the middle of Oberhausen’s main station, organizes exhibitions in the shop windows around the station, spontaneously sets up a screen printing workshop in public space and will soon open a new place with the working title “Leerstand” (empty space) directly at the main station, between the main entrance and the branch of a fast food chain, which will be opened and operated together with people in tolerated status.

“Lingering vs. loitering: the individual perception of a place, in this case the particular station, also has an impact on the formats and participation tools I can work with. I will have very great difficulty engaging people in co-creative processes if they don’t spend any time at all in that place, or want to leave as soon as possible.”

Based on the fact that train stations often have a negative image, ways and methods to change the situation were sought, building on the experiences in Oberhausen, but also looking at case studies from Basel and Žilina-Záriečie (Slovakia).

The result is a collection of creative approaches, for example:

  • Breaking down mindsets: Anyone who uses public transport is a “climate super hero” and should be made aware of it.
  • Use the shop windows of vacant lots around the station to share information and encourage participation. Also along the lines of, “You have 5/10/20/30/45 minutes? Here are suggestions for your green stay at the station….”
  • Organize/facilitate small actions around the station that don’t take a lot of time and have an identity-building effect (prompt: “Last week, a traveler left a plant in the raised bed across from Central Station. That took 10 minutes and now absorbs Co2 to the tune of X.
  • Make participation formats fun. Provide luggage storage and mobile play elements such as a mini-trampoline.
  • Establish cross-city network “participation stations” that issues a “station passport” -> one stamp per city/district/action.

Anyone who is now interested to get involved in the station environment of their city is welcome to contact kitev in Oberhausen accordingly. With “Liveable City”, Petra and Anne will soon be launching a new project here, of which train stations and their surroundings are an integral part.

Text: Sonja Broy
Picture: Zuzana Jančeková (KITEV) ist das Labor für die Landschaft der Metropole Ruhr – eine Biennale der urbanen Landschaft!

The Festival of the Landscape 2021

The Festival of the Landscape 2021

Our Festival of Landscape took place in February 2021. We are quite moved by the great interest, the inspiring contributions and the many positive feedbacks.

We have set out to develop stories for the future with the idea of the “Laboratory of Landscape” and to shape our region with it. All actors and participants have contributed a lot to this. We have shared a lot of commitment and enthusiasm, ideas and motivation for the topic. Thank you very much! We had a lot of fun!

On February 26 and 27, about 160 city makers, landscape designers, planners, activists and scientists met online to discuss and shape common visions for nature, landscape and green infrastructure in our region.

Impulse lectures, workshops and a colorful supporting program with music, readings, yoga and more created a festival atmosphere on various online stages. The festival was an innovative building block in the framework of the Offensive Grüne Infrastrukutr of the Regionalverband Ruhrgebiet.

A review of the festival and the documentation of the workshops can be found on our blog. ist das Labor für die Landschaft der Metropole Ruhr – eine Biennale der urbanen Landschaft!

Discussing the cities of the future together: and The Nature of Cities Festival cooperate

Discussing the cities
of the future together: and The Nature of Cities Festival cooperate

5 days, 12 languages, over 100 programme items covering all regional time zones: The international The Nature Of Cities Festival (TNOC) offers a superlative programme on the theme of “Better Cities for Nature and People”, and in doing so examines the future-oriented aspects of urban development – thus dedicating itself globally to the topics that our Festival of Landscape discusses locally in relation to the Metropole Ruhr.
That’s why TNOC and are cooperating: the festival starts as early as Monday, 22 February, and runs until Friday, 26 February. Friends of can register for free! Just send an email to “” and we will send you the registration data!
The wish of the organisers’ team, whose members come from various international non-profit organisations: “Join a diverse international community of urban thinkers to reimagine our cities today and build the cities of tomorrow. Listen to inspiring keynotes and participate in plenary dialogues. Take an excursion and visit Mumbai in the morning and return to Paris by nightfall”. Or even to the Metropole Ruhr – because when TNOC ends next Friday, 26.02, our digital laboratory of the landscape will start!

The Nature Of Cities Festival (TNOC)

register for the festival for the landscape of the metropole ruhr!

Register for the Festival
for the Landscape of
the Metropole Ruhr!

Actually, we wanted to meet you on site, directly in the landscape – to work and think and envision, to go on excursions and to network over the closing beer. But for good reason, as we all know, we are all staying at home at the moment.

No reason to abandon the plan: Curtain up for the first digital laboratory of the Metropole Ruhr landscape: on 26 and 27 February, city makers, landscape designers, planners, activists and scientists will meet online to discuss and create joint visions for nature, landscape and green infrastructure in our region.

The core of the festival is formed by a total of 13 interactive workshops, spread over both festival days. Impulse lectures, workshops and a colourful supporting programme with music, readings, yoga and more create a festival atmosphere on various online stages.
Networking and informal exchange will not be neglected at either, as we are opening a digital lala.lounge. Just make yourselves comfortable on the couch with coffee, tea, beer or wine and dial in at the times indicated!

Participation in the festival is free of charge. The event will be held in German unless otherwise stated. Places may be limited depending on the programme item.

You will receive the relevant information and links to the workshops and programme points in good time by e-mail after your registration.

Register now! is the laboratory for the landscape of the Metropole Ruhr – a biennial of the urban landscape!



The idea of
Climate change, biodiversity, green infrastructure, urban agriculture, health and quality of life, right on our doorstep? How we shape these issues today will shape our urban landscape of tomorrow. We invite you to a laboratory for this future. A laboratory for a landscape where over 5 million people live and work. – The laboratory for the landscape of the Metropole Ruhr
We want to discuss and shape the future – and understand this region as a landscape. Further development, trying out new things and making them tangible are the focus of all formats. consists of many
We are a network of experts for landscape and architecture, urban development and spaces, joint work and participation, communication and collaboration – initiated by Sebastian Schlecht and Melanie Kemner. starts at your windowsill. For us, landscape begins at home, on the balcony, in the garden, at the front door and in the crack in the pavement from which green sprouts. Green infrastructure is the network from the windowsill into the city and beyond! demands access for all
A diverse landscape and its accessibility are the key to a visible and tangible quality of life. Access to green space should therefore not be a privilege – or, to put it another way: everyone should be privileged. Particularly lively habitats are created wherever humans, animals and plants meet in the landscape and benefit from it. has a vision.
Team and network are working on a story for the future of the Ruhr, and on a vision: a laboratory, a platform, a festival. The international biennial for the landscape! a large interdisciplinary format for which is looking for supporters. Sponsors, cooperating institutions, landscape experts who are keen to experiment and develop their own contributions. invites you to participate
We cordially invite you to get involved in the network. Our vision is the Biennale 2022, but we are already preparing it with pilot formats together with the Regionalverband Ruhr, among others – we will continue on 26 and 27 February 2021, when invites you to a first “Laboratory of Landscape”. So: See you soon at the Laboratory of Landscape! Think Landscape! is the laboratory for the landscape of the Metropole Ruhr – a biennial of the urban landscape!