Metropolis Ruhr: European Capital of Culture 2010

Metropolis Ruhr:

The following 53 cities belong to the Ruhr area: Alpen, Bergkamen, Bochum, Bönen, Bottrop, Breckerfeld, Castrop-Rauxel, Datteln, Dinslaken, Dorsten, Dortmund, Duisburg, Ennepetal, Essen, Fröndenberg, Gelsenkirchen, Gevelsberg, Gladbeck, Hagen, Haltern am See, Hamm, Hamminkeln, Hattingen, Herdecke, Herne, Herten, Holzwickede, Hünxe, Kamen, Kamp-Lintfort, Lünen, Marl, Moers, Mülheim an der Ruhr, Neukirchen-Vluyn, Oberhausen, Oer-Erkenschwick, Recklinghausen, Rheinberg, Schermbeck, Schwelm, Schwerte, Selm, Sonsbeck, Sprockhövel, Unna, Voerde, Waltrop, Werne, Wesel, Wetter, Witten, Xanten

The Ruhr area is located in the German state “Nordrhein-Westfalen” (North-Rhine-Westphalia) and is named after the river “Ruhr”. It has a population of about 5,3 million and an area of 4.435 km2. 37,6 % of the area is built up, 40,7 % is used for agriculture and the proportion of forest is 17,6 %. The remaining area are surfaces of the water and other types of land use. In the Ruhr area there are about 615.000 people with a migration background, the percentage of foreigners is about 10,5 %. It includes 11 independent towns and 4 urban districts. The biggest independent towns are Dortmund (585.000 inhabitants), Bochum (380.000 inhabitants), Essen (580.000 inhabitants) and Duisburg (495.000 inhabitants).

Since the 19th century, these towns have grown together into a large complex with a vast industrial landscape, the fourth largest urban area in Europe after Moscow, London and Paris. Seen on a map, the Ruhr Area could be considered a single city, since there are no visible breaks between the individual city boroughs. For this reason, the Ruhr Area is described as a polycentric urban area. The area is characterized by a similar history of urban and economic development.

Before industrialisation began in the early 19th century, the Ruhr Valley was a former manufacturing region. Industrialization began in the region with the establishment of several iron works in the late 18th century. During the same period, locks built at Mülheim on the Ruhr allowed the expansion of coal mining further up the river and led to the expansion of Mülheim as a port. Development of the Ruhr Area’s coal deposits fueled further expansion of its iron and steel industry. By 1850, almost 300 coal mines were in operation in the region. The coal was processed in coking ovens into coke, which was needed to fuel the region’s blast furnaces, which produced iron and steel. Before the coal deposits along the Ruhr were used up, new mines were sunk farther north. The Ruhr Area’s mining industry migrated northward from the Ruhr to the Emscher and finally to the Lippe, sinking ever deeper mines as it went. The expansion of railways across Germany beginning in the mid-19th century gave further impetus to the Ruhr Area’s iron and steel industry. The Ruhr coal-mining district grew into the largest industrial region of Europe.

Nowadays the old minings can be visited by tourists, Bochum occupies a large museum of mining. The famous coal mine “Zeche Zollern” in Dortmund, representing these days a museum which shows social and culture history of the mining in the Ruhr area.The landmark of Dortmund is the so called “Dortmunder U” which is named after the Dortmunder “Union brewery”, founded in 1873

The Ruhr Valley is also an attraction for many tourists to discover the large and eclectic cultural highlights. There are a lot of historical and industrial museums showing the history of the Ruhr Valley, but not forgetting also many museums of art. Especially within the “European Capital of Culture 2010” the Ruhr Valley is presenting a variety of cultural events. There are 20 museums of art in the Ruhr Valley, which have joined forces to a close network, called “RuhrKunstMuseen” ( The first collaborative exhibition project will be taking place in the context of Ruhr2010.

European Capital of Culture:

In 2010 the “Metropolis Ruhr” became the European Capital of Culture.

The European Capital of Culture is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it organises a series of cultural events with a strong European dimension. Preparing a European Capital of Culture can be an opportunity for the city to generate considerable cultural, social and economic benefits and it can help foster urban regeneration, change the city’s image and raise its visibility and profile on an international scale.

It is also a real asset for attracting tourists in the city. In 1985, former actress Melina Mercouri, then Greece’s Minister of Culture, and her French counterpart Jack Lang came up with the idea of designating an annual Capital of Culture, to bring Europeans closer together by highlighting the richness and diversity of European cultures and raising awareness of their common history and values.

The Commission of the European Union manages the title and each year the Council of Ministers of the European Union formally designates European Capitals of Culture: more than 40 cities have been designated so far, from Stockholm to Genoa, Athens to Glasgow, and Cracow to Porto.

An international panel of cultural experts is in charge of assessing the proposals of cities for the title according to criteria specified by the European Union. List of European Cities/Capitals of Culture.

A 2004 study conducted by Robert Palmer (known as the “Palmer Study”) for the European Commission demonstrated that the choice of European Capital of Culture served as a catalyst for the cultural development and the transformation of the city. Consequently, the beneficial socio-economic development and impact for the chosen city are now also considered in determining the chosen cities.

Under the title “RUHR.2010” the region will be presenting itself for the first time as European Capital of Culture and offering a twelve-month programme with some 300 projects and 2,500 events under the motto “Change through Culture – Culture through Change”. The programme focuses on three guiding themes: mythology, metropolis and Europe. “We want to make the Ruhr mythology comprehensible, shape a new metropolis and move Europe,” says Oliver Scheytt, managing director of “RUHR.2010”, as he explains the basic concept.

The Ruhr will be celebrating the biggest festival on July 18, when 60 kilometres of tables stretching from Dortmund to Duisburg will unite the inhabitants of the whole region at a banquet of the cultures, nationalities and generations. In addition to this, over 1700 artists’ groups and cultural associations are taking part in the “TWINS” project, which involves over 150 towns paired up with locations in the Ruhr.

More info …

Projects we liked:

Ruhr Lit Cup
Writing and sports: the combination is an unusual one, but at the Ruhr Lit Cup, every player is an author, and every author is a football enthusiast.

Last weekend the German author’s football team won the Ruhr Lit Cup tournament held as part of the Ruhr.2010 cultural celebration.

Eight teams hailing from Sweden, England, Italy, Austria, Germany, and Turkey met in Unna – a small city east of Dortmund – to compete in the four-day tournament.  One of the German teams was comprised entirely of mystery-novel writers.

Off the field, players and lit-fans met for readings, concerts, and discussion panels under the mottos “Bolzen” and “Balzen.” Many notable authors participated, including Alessandro Baricco for Italy, Cansel Elçin for Turkey, und Franzobel for Austria.

During a close game Sunday in Dortmund’s “Rote Erde” (“Red Earth”) stadium, German authors kicked off against Turkish authors, and won 5:4.

The tournament took place as part of Ruhr.2010, a celebration of culture in north-east Germany’s Ruhr region, which has been named a “European Cultural Capital” this year.

Design Kiosk- Across-the-counter designer goods.
In Germany, kiosks are street-side stalls that sell newspapers and confectionery. In 2010, thirty of the region’s kiosks will be offering the general public the opportunity to buy hand-made everyday items from European designers. A competition was held to identify the 30 designers with the most compelling products. The conditions stated that the item had to have a functional purpose, fit into a box measuring 11x11x11 cm and cost less than € 20.

An integral part of German city life, kiosks provide the ideal platform for this project masterminded by BochumDesign e. V. It’s an undertaking that unites several of the region’s recognised virtues: resourcefulness, problem-solving, practical thinking and high-quality craftsmanship. Discovery tours lead out from Bochum, traversing the Ruhr region and ending at the 30 kiosks. Beyond the shop counter, the “design kiosks” themselves bear witness to their industrial locations where, often, yet-to-be-discovered firms in the creative sector have set up base. Indeed, consumer demand for better quality and greater individuality when it comes to functional, everyday items is boosting the design industry in the region as much as it is elsewhere.

A mobile design kiosk developed by students of the Dortmund University of Science and Technology will be unveiled during the “Local Heroes” week in Recklinghausen in March 2010. The bus will ply its trade along the design kiosk route, selling all the products from the 30 kiosks. Accompanying the project will be a retrospective exhibition of work by all Bochum Design Prize winners and entrants since 1997. DESIGNKIOSK RUHR.2010 has already led to the establishment of a network comprising numerous universities, companies, trade associations and institutions.

Flying grass carpet

You’d better hop on it now! July 31 will be the last day the impressive Flying Grass Carpet will be in the Essen city centre. The carpet “landed” there on July 2 as part of the RUHR2010 program of events and transformed the Willy-Brandt-Platz it into a green meeting place of cultures for the entire month of July, 2010.

This unusual travelling exhibit is on a tour through this year’s three European Capitals of Culture. It was already in Pécs (Hungary) from 21 May – 10 June and after leaving Essen on the July 31, it is slated to appear in Istanbul (Turkey) in September.

The eclectic program for outdoor fun on the carpet included picnic music performance, a theatre piece, a dance performance and much more. With urban spaces losing more and more of their public green spaces, this green blanket is a welcome and refreshing locale for community events and relaxing with family and friends.

HUNK-design and ID Eddy have designed the Flying Grass Carpet and it is an instant park that can be unfolded in any city.  It brings a unique experience of fun and relaxation. The carpet is a portable “mini park”, measuring up to 25 by 36 meters.

The Flying Grass Carpet is designed to look like an immense Persian rug with its pattern executed in different types of artificial grass, giving it a typical look and touch. As with ordinary parks, people can lie down on the grass or play ball with their friends. It’s an excellent spot to have a Frisbee tournament, a city picnic and all sorts of contests and performances.

Like in fairytales the Flying Grass Carpet travels from one city to the next and connects different cities and their citizens with each other. A worldwide shared public domain is created.

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