Is New Urbanism still new

Cooperation with the University of Miami
New Urbanism and Europe

Dr. Harald Kegler
Regional Planning Laboratory
(Lecture at the University of Miami)
Lutherstadt Wittenberg / Miami, May, 2001

Master plan Vockerode

Bauhaus and New Urbanism - the opposites touch!
Example of a systematic international cooperation project for the design of the "industrial follow-up environment" - signs for the beginning of a new urban planning culture

As a reopened design and cultural institution, the Bauhaus of the 90s turned to the discussion about the legacy of modernity and the consequences of the industrial age using exemplary design experiments "on its doorstep" (analogous to the historical Bauhaus). It did this with the intention of addressing the consequences of industrial modernity of the 20th century - visible in the "Fall of Bitterfeld" - as a universal challenge and of making practical contributions with specific, complex interventions, visible "buildings" and international cooperation projects. In this way, the Bauhaus changed its historical role as a promoter of aesthetic modernity on a large industrial basis to a promoter of cultural postmodernism on a radically changing industrial basis.

The starting point for this conceptual orientation arose from the upheaval in 1989/90 in the GDR and the subsequent radical change in all social spheres. This break went hand in hand with a loss of identity that posed existential questions for entire regions. The incipient de-industrialization led to mass unemployment and the devaluation of cities and regions. However, there was also a loss of cultural foundations and historical awareness that had already occurred in the GDR era, which was now reinforced and which made it difficult to rebuild specific identities of cities and regions with a future orientation.

The Bauhaus in Dessau had already been re-established as an institution in 1987 - as the so-called "Center for Design of the GDR". But it had hardly had any room for development. In autumn 1989, in the middle of the first tentative attempts to emancipate itself as a design institute, the "turning point" took place - the wall fell. A caesura was indicated. The Bauhaus organized an international planning seminar on urban renewal from November 4th to 9th, 1989, which was later described as "historic". The participants came among others. from Israel, Finland, West Germany or the Soviet Union. In this "Walter Gropius seminar" the idea of ​​the "industrial garden realm" was born. This idea arose out of the impression of the political and economic upheavals. She formulated the historical and cultural foundations for shaping the future of the region, its cities and landscapes, and outlined the vision of a human living environment that respects history and existence, is economically viable and makes the devastated environment an attractive place to live and relax again. The first concrete project proposals were aimed at the renewal of the Bauhaus city, Dessau, which was characterized by war gaps, car-friendly post-war construction and the decay of the old building fabric.

In September 1990 the experimental workshop of the Bauhaus - the institutional sponsor of the projects on the industrial garden realm at the Bauhaus, presented fundamental theses for further work. They had a very culturally and ecologically oriented approach that criticized the Bauhaus legacy while at the same time acknowledging the experimental potential. This was not yet a program of action, but the documentation of an attitude for the future design tasks. The program was "forged" on the basis of the development of the first projects - first creating the references for the attitude, then working out the program and implementing it on a broad scale. Here, too, there are references in the approach to New Urbanism.

With this idea, in the development of which Harald Bodenschatz, TU Berlin, was largely involved, important foundations for the establishment of the Bauhaus as a new, international institution for design were established in the period that followed. Alongside universities in Poland, Great Britain and Brazil, the TU Berlin was one of the most important partners throughout the development of the projects.

Thesis: the Bauhaus of the 90s and the New Urbanism movement have a common basis: the rupture of modernity as a result of the change in economic and cultural guiding principles ("Postfordism", inventory development, cultural diversification, ...). Both differ in their respective cultural contexts, historical references and creative expressions.

For the Bauhaus of the 90s, "Ferropolis", "Piesteritz" and "landart-gardening" stand in the post-mining landscape, while Seaside, Civano or Milwaukee downtown can stand for New Urbanism. Their goal was / is to remodel the urban, suburban and industrial environment that has emerged from the consequences of high industrialization. That is why neither is / was not a product designer in the narrower sense, but oriented towards the comprehensive design areas of social spaces: CITY and REGION. These similarities take a back seat to the differences in design and in terms of socio-economic relationships. The Bauhaus project was created under the conditions of economic shrinking, social tension with extremely high unemployment and radical dismantling of the structure-determining industry, combined with the "haphazard" growth of cities and settlements on their fringes, the fallowing of entire regions and the sudden change in ownership and soil as a result of German unity. The Congress of the New Urbanism CNU was born and developed under the conditions of an economic boom, enormous construction activity, low unemployment and population growth. At first glance, the aesthetic "worlds" of modernity (and its current interpretation in European experts) and neo-traditionalist design of most New Urbanism (N.U.) projects do not suggest any direct correspondence.

The European neotraditionalism (e.g. the school of Prince Charles or "Vision of Europe") basically has little to do with the N.U. to do, since these approaches do not see themselves as an urban development movement and do not raise the issue of the upheavals in industrial society and their spatial / social consequences. Rather, they are a stylistic attitude that seeks to assert itself in the spectrum of others. Nevertheless, the current urban development in Europe knows many projects that reflect the attitudes of the N.U. come close, yes, have already realized a lot of what is being built with great effort in the USA, one only thinks of local public transport. However, there is no systematic networking in urban planning discourse that would have the power of movement. Hence the task here: Documentation of the cooperation processes between a European actor and one in the N.U. active institution.

The mediation of the "opposites" - better the correspondence - between the Bauhaus of the 90s and the CNU takes place via a reference base: the CNU charter (1993) and the "congenial" theses of the workshop of the Bauhaus from 1990 (annex):

Three levels of content-related cooperation

1st preliminary stage: New Housing in an industrial Village - a spontaneous approach and first bridges

Start of cooperation: 1992, Charrette Vockerode
a) Long-term project of the Bauhaus Industrial Garden Realm
(cf. Stadtbauwelt 110/1991, theses of the workshop from 1990)
b) Teaching program town and suburbia design at the School of Architecture, Charrette method, principles of later New Urbanism (included in the charter from 1993)

Fundamentals of content: urban development of the existing building, prevention of urban sprawl by building sophisticated living areas in the settlement area, integration of cult-historical conditions as the basis for the design of a future-oriented region after the end of the age of old industry

Project: Industrial village Vockerode in the historical garden realm - symbolic place of the industrial garden realm (local approach)
Without the discussion about the founding of the Congress for the New Urbanism and the NU charter, which was already emerging in the USA and whose major co-authors at the University of Miami were explicitly involved in the Charrette, these approaches were involved in the design work - they corresponded informally With the content principles of the industrial garden realm - without pressing the architectural design of the building proposals into a forced bed ("modern Bauhaus architecture"), an urban planning approach for the development of this prototype for the conversion of an industrial community in the listed natural landscape into an attractive one succeeded A place of residence, culture and work that brings design innovation to the region, but integrates it in a very compatible way and yet incorporates a recognizable innovation - entirely in the "spirit" of the enlightened regent and modernizer Prince Franz 200 years ago. The development plan contains all the criteria that were later included in the N.U. Charter: It is a teaching piece of the N.U. dar! The results only had an indirect effect on the development of the Vockerode project in the industrial garden realm; no direct measures followed.

2. Design: Reconvention of an old industrial area in the sense of the CNU Charter - first effects

Continuation of the cooperation 1995: Charrette Bitterfeld

Basis and content: see under 1.

Conversion of the southern area in the Bitterfeld-Wolfen industrial park into an urban residential and commercial area that brings together the existing cities of Bitterfeld and Wolfen
(regional approach with a focus on redesigning old industrial areas)

In the center of the Charrett stood the southern part of the chemical park Bitterfeld with the design core Torbogenstrasse (formerly Kraftwerk Süd), connection to the northern areas (with the area of ​​the former house of W. Rathenau) as well as the redesign of the wastelands in the chemical park to mixed areas.
The charter of the N.U. directly played no role this time either. The task differed significantly from the usual tasks at the university, housing construction, settlement development and inner city renewal. The subject was not new to the students. The conversion of old industrial areas is also of secondary importance in the CNU's charter. The result is all the more remarkable: the master plan represents a synthesis of the ideas for the long-term conversion of the monostructural area into an urban mixed area as a "seam" between the existing cities. The idea of ​​a "film park", a landscape garden (landscape strip), which how a string of pearls ("corridor" in the Charter) interweaves the individual parts, is one of the approaches that shaped further discussion. But also the ideas for a "future museum" in the Torbogenstrasse ("Venice in Bitterfeld") attracted attention, as they represented innovative interpretations of the development of the stock for industrial objects.
However, the overall effect of the master plan was decisive: it formed the basis for the planning workshop set up by the municipalities and the district, moderated by the Bauhaus, and which developed a comprehensive master plan for the entire area in 1996. This received the European planner award in 1998. In it, principles are laid down in a regional charter (code) and decided by the cities as they formulate the CNU charter without explicitly referring to it. The correspondence of the planning instruments and the method becomes apparent: planning workshop - charrette, master plan, set of rules - code.

3. Integration: Redevelopment of the suburban region

Continuation and expansion of the cooperation in 1998 with participation in the newly founded Bauhaus-Kolleg by the School of Architecture, participation in the CNU congress in Denver (1998, establishment of continuous, institutionalized contacts with the CNU, further participation in the congresses in Milwaukee and Portland), Translation of the charter into German and first scientific publications in Germany on the CNU (Die Alte Stadt 4/98 and Stadtbauwelt 12/2000) as well as participation in the first CNU awards program 2000/2001

Basis: Extension of the basic content and the discussion about the "culture of movements" in urban planning and regional development after the CNU Congress in Denver (first presentation of the Industrial Garden Kingdom in the USA)

Project: "Beyond the Sprawl" Redevelopment of the whole suburban district of Bitterfeld-Wolfen - with the parts
- Renewal of the industrial wasteland Filmfabrik Wolfen,
- Reconstruction of urban wasteland close to the center,
- Reurbanization of the peripheral prefabricated housing estate and
- Development of a mining wasteland for a neighborhood settlement close to the city center.
With the task of contributing to the redesign of the "Sprawl", a further step was taken in the interweaving of the design objectives of both institutions. Although suburbanization in Germany has not reached the same level as in the USA and is also not directly comparable socially, it is precisely the highly fragmented industrial landscape that is in the process of radical industrial change that is characterized by particularly rapid urban sprawl. The typology of the design tasks (and the intended networking of the individual task areas) arose with reference to the CNU Charter and the differentiation of the industrial garden kingdom in individual projects such as the master plan from 1996 and its implementation in the context of EXPO 2000 as well as the substantive deepening of the original Theses (see book Industrielles Gartenreich, Dessau 1996).

The contributions of the college (not only from the USA, but also from universities in Brazil, Munich and Berlin) led to the formulation of the approach in the sub-region Bitterfeld-Wolfen: Foundation of a new city from the previous parts (not only communal Merger, but qualitative integration as reurbanization). This process is still ongoing and is being systematically followed up by the local actors.

With the reorientation of the Bauhaus from 1999 with the termination of the international cooperation along the previous projects and the overarching urbanistic topics (industrial garden realm and suburbanization), this development process came to an abrupt institutional end at Bauhaus. However, the discourse was continued in new sponsorships - albeit in a less extensive way at first.

In preparation for the CNU Award 2000, the next step in the overall spatial networking of the individual projects and sub-area planning in the REGIONAL-PLAN Industrial Garden Realm "Between History and Future" was carried out under the design maxim of regional gardens. This plan represents a collage of the renewal projects, their cultural-historical bases and spatial-design connections along corridors, paths and networks. It is an expression of an application as well as a specific interpretation of the CNU Charter. It also includes the critical reflection that took place in the course of the translation and discussion of the Charter, e.g. B. Questions of the gated community, the disproportionate proportion of new buildings compared to renovation, the low proportion of conversion of old industrial areas ("brownfields") or architectural qualities.

The "white spot" is described: as you get closer, the contours become clearer, contrasts and similarities clearer

The discourse continues: new levels

a) "Nature" and New URBANISM
New cooperation projects: in the reference region Industrial Garden Realm, a new charrette is being carried out: the spectrum of design areas is expanded to include that of the landscape: design on the border of networked industrial landscape and already reclaimed "nature" from early industrial use. The relationship between nature conservation and the creation of an industrial landscape is a deficit in the N.U., but also in the debate in Europe about the perspectives and understanding of "nature conservation". Project location: Zschornewitz industrial community, mining areas and nature park.
b) the "itinerant preacher":
Harald Bodenschatz presents the N.U. for discussion at German universities and colleges - interest but also skepticism is growing, the public discussion has begun - albeit sporadically and tentatively - and is being discussed by the press, for example. Partly accompanied benevolently.
c) the systematic "processing" has begun - a "typically German" contribution:
From excursions lasting several weeks and various stays in the USA as well as the analysis of the literature and congress materials, a publication will be created that will explain the history, the institutional foundations, the projects, the criticism and the international development perspectives of the N.U. represents prepared.
d) Projects are realized - a "typically American" contribution:
Investors start their first projects with architects who have become N.U. belong or are expected to be implemented. With Robert Stern as the "flagship", the N.U. a: Nobel projects in neo-traditional architecture. The impression is created that really just a variety in architecture and not an urban development movement and orientate towards the rich in society - the aesthetic and social prejudice is confirmed!

But: the deficit of the European urban planning culture is also confirmed: there is no movement that could pursue overarching goals (see charter), create publicly effective reference projects (exception: IBA Emscher Park), and spark interdisciplinary cooperation is able to organize controversial - but jointly supported - congresses that have sociopolitical relevance, and with all this it could initiate practical contributions to the reversal of suburbanization tendencies, social division and demolition projects of valuable substance as well as the development of a public culture of environmental design in cities and regions European level - could accomplish.

Don't miss out on opportunities:

The CNU can live without Europe, and vice versa. But the sprawl is growing worldwide - especially in the countries that were among the areas of origin of industrialization, Europe and North America, forces are beginning to form to counter this new "epidemic". It does not trigger the euphoria of dismay like BSE in Europe, it is more insidious and therefore deceptive - but it is recognized by many people in these countries. The regions of this earth in which the megacities are growing are still facing this critical "reversal" of thinking. However, it does not have to be the first 100 years before the potential for action also matures there. It is still sparse enough in the "old industrial countries".

The World Congress for the Future of Cities in Berlin in July 2000 indirectly brought the dilemma to light: the situation is serious, let's continue to argue about architectural styles. Architects were rare, the Europeans and North Americans - that is, whites - were in the majority, but they did not dominate the debates. How insignificant is our discussion in view of what is being delivered from Europe and North America to these parts of the world in terms of concepts for the car-friendly city, for high-rise culture and for the "settlement of the whole country"? Are we perhaps fighting on the wrong battlefield? The CNU and the European sympathizers of this urban development movement would have a lot of material to internationalize the debate. It should not be Mexico City or Calcutta that should be brought into focus. But z. B. Havana and Belgrade are compelling issues! Here the power of the N.U. have to prove. Here we should start new ways and practical forms of cooperation. The experiences from the industrial garden realm and the grown cooperation can be helpful and should be continued in this sense.

- Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (1996): Industrial Garden Realm, Dessau
- Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (1999): Industrial Garden Realm - 2, Dessau
- Die Alte Stadt, 4/1998 (Old City - newly built), quarterly magazine for
City history, urban sociology and monument preservation (German translation of
Charter, pp. 336 - 342)
- The New City, 1996, Miami, pp. 130-131 (Charter of the New Urbanism)

Dr. Harald Kegler, Laboratory for Regional Planning, Karl-Liebknecht-Platz 21, D-06886 Lutherstadt Wittenberg, [email protected]


Theses of the experimental workshop at the Bauhaus Dessau, September 1990
(See Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (1996): Industrial Garden Kingdom, Dessau, p. 273)

1. There is a global, existential, ecological problem that focuses on the Bauhaus door in the Dessau-Bitterfeld region. This problem is causally linked to the development of industrial society.
2. Approaches to solutions with the methods and instruments of industrial society (technology and production orientation, belief in progress, growth, universal claim ...) lead to the foundation and aggravation of the problem. It is no longer about products and ideal states, but ultimately about processes, values ​​and evolutionary changes.
3. The historical Bauhaus with its design approaches was the product and promoter of modern industrial society. With the limits of industrial society, its limits have also become visible.
4. Problems can only be dealt with through a socio-cultural change in values. There are no universal recipes for this, only regional approaches.
5. The existence-threatened world asks for exemplary models that a concrete and regionally working Bauhaus can bring in as a laboratory and mirror of human culture.
6. A way out of the crisis of the industrial age is indicated both with the cultural break and with the further development of instruments of the historical Bauhaus.