Europan Germany

E6: Topic




Between the historical and the modern city

European cities consist in themselves of several towns. In most cases, they have a stable inner city core with a valuable architectural stock, resulting from urban development up to the first half of the 20th century. At the same time, they also have modern neighborhoods as a result of land use planning from the 1960s to the 1980s, consisting of overlapping urban fragments or of fragmented large housing estates located in the middle of the networks, typical residential neighborhoods, commercial areas, new towns, etc.

In addition, there are urban areas of historical origin, resulting from urban expansions of the 18th and 19th centuries that exceeded the actual city walls, or from new settlements in the first half of the 20th century, such as suburbs, industrial areas, urbanized former village structures, former fortifications, or areas formerly used for military purposes. Urban fragments grouped around old, rural and new transportation networks, which have now developed into interspatial fragments between urban centers and modern cities. According to the respective needs, the development gradually evolved on this grid structure into multiple spaces where high-rise buildings, row houses along the streets, detached single-family houses, industrial plants, warehouses, contemporary traffic routes, etc. emerged.

EUROPAN 6 proposes to explore these spaces for their latent identities and accelerate their development.



Potential uses and new urbanities

These areas, neglected by the development of the extensive city, used at best as transit sites or for the location of service areas and long marginalized socially and physically, are now emerging as strategically important for the emergence of a contemporary urban puzzle : Thanks to their location and their urban heritage, whose qualities are still waiting to be discovered and appropriately valorized, thanks to the municipal policy intention to guarantee more social mixing in the neighborhoods and due to new offers of use, these areas can become the topos for new urbanity par excellence. This urbanity arises from the combination of existing urban values and their social and cultural memory function and new values corresponding to the development of new urban lifestyles.

This change is the result of social and spatial developments that seek to benefit from the locational advantage and context of these places located between cities :

- Change of lifestyle, resulting in the demand for diversified forms of housing in peripheral locations close to the center, which respond in a differentiated way to different population groups (young households, students, elderly people) and which include a certain offer of services close to the home,

- cultural changes caused by the steady growth of leisure time and the resulting increase in demand for urban leisure facilities such as cinemas, theaters, cafes and concert halls, as well as social and sports facilities,

- Development into places of tourist importance, provided that the areas have a history that allows them to be involved in an urban cultural circuit that generates spaces of interactive memory,

- changes in working methods associated with new technologies, allowing the creation of small hi-tech companies or quality craft businesses that require a certain central location, or taking into account the future development of housing and work,

- the development of urban transport systems, especially the transport hubs, which allow a smooth change of means of transport (train/tram, car/bus, P+R - facilities, etc.). Local authorities - city councils, urban planning departments, as well as architects and planners

- are already working with more or less intensity on concrete concepts of urban renewal for these urban situations. Private investors are increasingly interested in these areas in order to meet the needs of a new clientele. From an urban planning point of view, these urban situations offer space to explore innovative development concepts for the implementation and planning of urban renewal with the participation of municipalities and private investors according to a development logic that is both public and private.



Enhancement of the existing and architectural renewal

Due to the structuring by the traffic network and the hybrid spatiality, the urban situations offer existing, traces and living memory of a common urban development, from which, however, project situations can emerge, starting from the spatial modernization, leading to a complex, intense, multiple, modern and coherent city. This coherence can be achieved:

- At the level of transport networks, by restructuring existing transport routes and nodes according to contemporary morphologies and modes of travel-opening up to a variety of complementary modes of travel: car, public transport (bus, streetcar) and bicycle.

- At the level of development, by taking into account the parcelling and partial reorganization of land in accordance with a coherent urban development concept, by increasing the density of hitherto less urbanized areas such as block courtyards, gaps between buildings, areas at the interface of modern transport networks, by replacing worthless, dilapidated buildings with new ones, by modernizing old structures that are worth preserving or can be reused, by reorganizing heterogeneous building complexes in terms of urban development and integrating ecological requirements into the architecture.

- At the level of public space and environmental quality, by upgrading existing public spaces (streets, squares, parks, piazzas, natural spaces), by inserting new public spaces that relate to both existing and new morphological structures, by treating the transitions between built-up areas and public spaces, by landscaping and resource management.

Due to the poor image of these often run-down neighborhoods on the edge of the valuable stock of the city centers, there is a strong demand for upgrading their identity through architectural renewal and morphological restructuring, typological diversification, creation of new qualities of architecture as well as renewal of public spaces. This demand determines the strategic role for the 6th EUROPAN procedure in this new " urban market ".



The urban situations, all in typical intermediate locations, should belong to one of the following four categories :

- the abandoned: urban situations whose use has become obsolete and which therefore offer new development opportunities,

- the unfinished city: historical or modern suburbs, unfinished settlements, heterogeneously built settlements from the post-war period with restructuring potentials,

- Absorbed villages: mature rural structures that have been gradually absorbed by the surrounding urban expansions and where new, dense but low-rise residential neighborhoods can emerge,

- Inner-city peripheries: areas that have been devalued over time due to a lack of connectivity with the city center, which can be revitalized by the introduction of modern transport infrastructure (roads, car parking, streetcar or bus, rapid transit) and which allow the connection of different means of transport, thus creating micro-urban polarities.



...for the urban situations of the 6th EUROPAN procedure

The urban situations of the 6th EUROPAN procedure are located in urban fragments situated between a city center (stabilized city) and modern urban extensions (large housing estates, contemporary residential areas). These areas, which do not belong to either of the aforementioned contexts (historic and modern city), owe their urban development history to the continuous urban development in the pre-war period and thus stand in contrast to the more recent, discontinuous urban development of the post-war period.

These can be " suburbs " of the central city centers (urban expansion on former city walls such as military terrain, suburbs with mixed functions directly adjacent to a historic city center in a first ring, infrastructure facilities such as barracks, prisons, hospitals ... );or " fragments " in a first periphery belt (continuous developments of old towns on the basis of existing traffic route networks, former villages and towns integrated into the urban development directly on the outskirts of the city) or they are " intermediate spaces " caused by the expansion of cities (hybrid urban spaces on the basis of the traffic route network leading into the city centers, neighborhoods between the city center and commercial areas to be reused such as harbor and industrial areas ...).

Morphologically, such neighborhoods could be urban or industrial fragments that have become partially or totally obsolete, hybrid or unfinished urban fragments consisting of old single-family housing estates, large housing estates ... or rural contexts, villages that have been appropriated by urban development.

The urban situations should open the possibility of creating new morphologies of development and new relationships between built-up areas and public and landscape spaces with greater density.



... are the subject of an urban renewal that is clearly supported by the municipalities or responsible bodies. This urban renewal integrates four factors:

- Memory function and maintenance - even partial - of the identity of the place through the valorization of the traces of urban structure or of certain habitats or historical uses;

- Social mixing through a variable offer of housing types for different social target groups and different uses;

- Modernization of the city and strengthening of development dynamics through transport networks (road, subway, P+R points for switching from car to public transport), through construction projects (combination of housing and dynamic urban uses in conjunction with commerce, urban residential utilities, culture, preservation of existing buildings ...);

- Quality of living and environmental conditions by taking into account the relationship between the city and nature (allowing nature to penetrate the city) and ecological aspects (sustainability and management of resources).

The EUROPAN 6 sites have an area of 0.5 hectares (5,000 m2) and 3 hectares (30,000 m2). As a whole or in partial areas, they offer implementation potential for a clearly defined architectural task that can be realized in the short term. Each plot may be a fragment or may consist of several disconnected fragments.

The plots are each located within a larger urban area of approximately 10 hectares (100,000 m2) that is undergoing change and that the participants will use for an overarching urban planning/architectural consideration. However, this is not an urban planning competition, but these situations are only intended to allow the competition participants to integrate their design into specific urban developments. The competition project must fit into the larger context and establish spatial connections.

The programmatic framework is free, but should integrate several, different functions: Commerce, workplaces, cultural spaces, different urban services. However, the residential function remains predominant.


Didier Rebois

Secretary General EUROPAN