‘Stadbildplanung Dortmund’ converts run-down public housing estate in Germany’s struggling Ruhr Valley into fully rented Jewel
At the outset of this redevelopment project stood an analysis of the estate’s deficits and shortcomings. These were manifold in nature. On the one hand the existing building facades showed substantial wear and tear. Also, the buildings’ surrounding landscape and entrance areas came short of offering experiential quality and were the reason for an overall lack of identity. All of the above factors had contributed to an increasing vacancy rate of the estate’s 174 units over the years prior to renovation. An integrated project approach offered the solution to the existing problems.
On a technical level the goal of increased energy efficiency was reached by a complete overhaul of building facades, windows, and roofs. These measures were interwoven with an identity forming design concept. To develop their concept, Andreas Hanke and his team drew from a combination of site specific characteristics and historic building examples. They applied a colour concept derived from paintings by the Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico. Each of the estate’s seventeen buildings was colour coded according to a palette taken from ‘De Chirico’ paintings. Assigning different, but complementing colours to the single entrances served as a method of differentiating them from one another - thus creating a sense of belonging – whilst inducing an overarching identity at the same time. In order to create a sense of scale, elements of classical architecture - building plinth, cornice, mezzanine, and articulated parapet – were superimposed upon originally flat and anonymous facades.
These elements serve as identifiers as they are representative of the historical and grown city. As such they have a positive connotation in people’s collective memories. However, the approach was not a formal one that simply aimed at historicizing a piece of unsuccessful modern architecture. Rather, architectural symbols that represent confidence, safety, and stability were used as means to create acceptance and identity for one’s quarter, estate, and flat. One identifier is the alpine panorama that was silk screened onto the mezzanine band along the buildings’ top floors. The image is a reference to their Ruhr valley setting, tying the buildings together and creating a unifying identity for the estate. The entire process is well documented in a movie by the German filmmaker Adolf Winkelmann. He tracked the changes that happened – not just to the buildings, but more importantly to the residents’ mindset - throughout the renovation process.
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