Research project, Dortmund

The research project “Urbanism of Normality – On the reconstruction of urban quarters in the Ruhr Region” will take place from 2012-2014 at the Chair for History and Theory of Architecture (TU Dortmund). Research will be undertaken on one of eight urban areas in the Ruhr Region, we will be focusing on the structure around the Limbecker Strasse in the inner city of Essen.

The research project will concentrate mainly on quarters in the region that consist of streets, squares and perimeter blocks and contain a multitude of functions such as living, working, recreation and education. During the war many of these quarters were severely damaged but not eradicated. As a result of reconstruction after World War II, many of these dense quarters were reconstructed and redeveloped in a conventional way. Today, they are characterized by a wide spread of uses and contain many very conventional urban structures  (hence ‘unspectacular urbanism’) mostly based on the existing block and parcel structures with a traditional mix of functions and architectonic control of the urban space.

It is paradigmatic for most of these quarters that they are now viewed as neither authentic historical quarters with Wilhelminian Stlye buildings nor as newly developed quarters with buildings drawn back from the street. Analysing  these “normal quarters” is crucial for the understanding of the urban structure of the Ruhr cities today, yet until now they have been largely passed over  without being brought into a consistent time frame. This research project aims at to address this .