In collaboration with Aktionsteam, Hustadt, Bochum
Landscape architect: Christine Wolf, Landscape architects WBP gmbh
Structural engineers: Meyer & Partner Bauingenieure, Bochum
Photo: Apolonija Šušteršič, Lasse Ernlund Lorentzen
In 2008, I received an invitation from the City of Bochum to make a conventional public art project in Hustadt, a suburban neighbourhood on the city’s south-east edge with an interesting beginning and turbulent recent history. Built in the late 1960s as a model neighbourhood following general urban standards, it was planned with a variety of housing units in order to provide a mixeduse structure and a complex living situation for approximately 6,000 inhabitants. The area was intended to be a Universitätsrahmenstadt —a residential area framing the campus of the Bochum University— built to offer professors, students, academics, and public employees nearby housing. As a result of various social, economic, and political developments related to today’s global situation, Hustadt has since then encountered many changes.
Today’s inhabitants of Hustadt reflect a microcosm of the world; approximately 56 different nationalities live in the neighbourhood, with many different cultures, lifestyles, and habits coexisting every day in close proximity to each other. High unemployment, lengthy integration processes, and the constantly changing community limit the possibility for its inhabitants to relate to the place as their home. As a result, Hustadt has the reputation of being a ghetto; its bad name has stigmatized the area.
Planned to last only nine months, the project turned into a three-year process of negotiations, discussions, and actions. It evolved into a self-organized initiative together with local activists (Aktionsteam) and provoked a huge discussion within the city legislature. The
Hustadt Project was finally accepted in the urban regeneration plan for “Innere Hustadt” as part of “Stadtumbau West” —the Urban Regeneration Program for Hustadt, Bochum. We managed to expand the initial budget by 500% and turned a conventional public art commission into a sustainable participatory project.
More than an architectural object or urban infrastructure, the Hustadt Project was mainly a process composed of several parts. With Akstionsteam we researched the existing situation, through many formal and informal meetings, discussions, and workshops with people living in Hustadt and developed different activities for the neighbourhood in order to test the location, to encourage them to act on and react to present conditions, outside of official social institutions, to create a place by themselves and for themselves, using the results as arguments in political discussions. The entire process led to the drafting of a proposal for and the eventual realization of the Community Pavilion – Brunnenplatz 1, a multifunctional infrastructure for the main square in Hustadt, a meeting place for inhabitants.
The Hustadt Project became a platform that stimulated the imagination about the future of the place and its inhabitants. The project focused on and addressed distributions of power in public space; the role of the artist/architect within urban regeneration projects; the issue of “spatial justice”; and the appropriation of public space as understood by different actors.